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The Autobiography of Simon Lake 

As told to 





All rights reserved. This book, or parts 
thereof, must not be reproduced in any 
form without permission of the publisher. 


PERHAPS no man in the past century has had as 
much to do with the shape of history as Simon 
Lake. That statement is intended as a query rather than 
as a statement of fact. It may be debatable, but it is also 

He is responsible for the modern submarine. 

The World War pivoted on him. Not on the Kaiser or 
Lloyd George or Hindenburg or Wilson or LudendorfL 
He had nothing to do with the provocations or the set- 
tlements. He was an engineer almost unknown except on 
the coast of New Jersey and in a few capitals of Europe. 
His sympathies were not warmly engaged for either of 
the parties to the conflict. Not until the United States 
entered the war was he greatly stirred. 

Yet the pitch-pine boat he stitched and screwed and 
nailed together as a boy rattled a mighty empire. Great 
Britain's crown as Queen of the Seas almost slipped off 
her imperial head. If she had gone down, France must 
have gone with her. The consequences of such a collapse 
are now incalculable. To-day's world may have been no 
worse than it is, but it must have been almost insanely 

The brutalities of submarine warfare aroused the gen- 
erous and sentimental people of the United States. 
Americans had had no cause to love Great Britain except 
that many traced their blood lines to quiet villages in the 
shires. A synthetic affection for France had been built up 
through a complete misunderstanding of the part France 


had played toward us. We were drenched with Allied 
propaganda, and the German side of the case was muted. 
Yet we would in all probability have been able to main- 
tain an attitude of detached partiality if the Germans 
had not turned barbarian with their submarines. 

It was Simon Lake this almost unknown engineer on 
the Jersey coast who was wholly responsible for the sub- 
marine. It is not fair to say that some other man might 
have done what Simon Lake did. The fact is that there 
was no such other man. The modern submarine stems 
from his pitch-pine boat as surely as the oak does from 
the acorn. There is no one to share his distinction. 

When we entered the war, the Allies were beaten. No 
candid person conversant with the facts will attempt to 
deny that now. The Americans reenforced the faltering 
Allies with men and money and munitions, but more 
than all with a reckless courage and an unthinking 
prodigality and a complete disregard for obstacles. They 
did not follow the rules of war but they won their 

Germany was defeated primarily because Simon Lake's 
submarine brought us into the war. 

The part we took in the World War cost us forty bil- 
lions of dollars, more or less. After being a Santa Glaus, 
the United States became a Shylock to the eyes of our un- 
willing debtors. A boom based on inflation was followed 
by a collapse due to deflation. Ever-rising taxes galled a 
people who had hardly been tax-conscious before the 
war. Social unrest, the mouthings of demagogues, ap- 
palling extravagances by money-drunk oflicials from vil- 
lage to capital dangerously strained the American politi- 
cal structure. 

A weakened and uncertain America lost something of 
its power to aid and comfort a frightened and confused 


world. Behind a screen of submarines Japan felt com- 
petent to defy other major powers when a sprawling 
China seemed again open to attack. Italy armed with 
submarines was able to assert a claim to the Mediterra- 
nean as her sea. France and Great Britain were reluc- 
tantly forced to embark on a great navy-building 
program. Pirate submarines clandestinely aided Franco's 
rebel forces in Spain. All over the world the little powers 
on the edge of the waters added submarines to their 
coastal defenses. In past days a rusty cruiser armed with 
a few light guns could set such little powers shivering in 
their boots. The submarine has redressed the balance. 
Elaborate protections are required now to ward off evil- 
smelling, clanking, rattling, slimy little sea-vipers. They 
are deadly dangerous and they are comparatively cheap. 

Simon Lakeno other man is responsible for these 
changes in the form of history. 

He found the submarine a bouncing, uncontrollable, 
suicidal, useless craft and made it into the arm most 
feared by the world's navies. In more than forty years he, 
and he alone, taught it to dive and steer, shaped its hull, 
gave it eyes, put guns on its turrets, and arranged such 
a compromise between comfort and exhaustion that its 
crews are able to keep the seas. Of the one hundred and 
eleven patents he took out for incorporation in the mod- 
ern submarine, twenty-five are to-day in use in every sub- 
marine in the world. No submarine could make a voyage 
or see an enemy or fire a gunor live, for that matter 
except by using the Lake patents. The protective period 
has long ago expired, of course. No royalties are being 
paid. But they are the blood and veins and sinews of 
the dark monster that has literally and in fact upset a 
picture whose background was roughed in when men 
invented gunpowder. 


Lake sees the fifty-million-dollar battleships of to-day 
as ponderous steel house-boats which provide dancing 
platforms for Navy Night and luxurious suites for ad- 
mirals but are quite useless in wartime. Not merely use- 
less, but an actual drain upon the resources of the coun- 
try which must pay for and man and paint and in war- 
time protect them from the submarine. He foresees 
submarine navies, provisioned from submarine depots, 
silent and invisible. He anticipates trade routes fur- 
nished with submarine cargo- and passenger-carriers, and 
voyages made under the ice to the North Pole in comfort 
and safety, so that no school-girl need suffer; and possibly 
romantic ventures to the depths of the sea where may be 
found a lost continent. 
Do these things seem absurd? 

Then read that a great marine engineer, after opposing 
some of Lake's plans, finally conceded his own defeat. 

"Your gadgets are all wrong according to the books/' 
he said. "But the dickens of it is that they work." 

It may be that he did not change the course of history. 
It is possible that the Germanic powers would have been 
defeated and that the United States would have entered 
the war if no one had ever heard of unterseeboots, or 
torpedoes, or the Lusitania. The evidence is that he did. 
And he invented and improved his submarine creations 
in the face of every obstacle, impeded by his own govern- 
ment, so hard-up at times that work once stopped because 
he could not pay a $17 debt, opposed by every brass- 
hatted official horrified by meeting a new idea face to 
face. He was robbed and laughed at and humiliated and 
in the end triumphant. He has made fortunes and lost 

He could refuse two and one-half million dollars of- 
fered for his signature to a blind contract. He could 


spend a summer trying to find a lost treasure ship. He 
refused to buy the top of Signal Hill, under which more 
oil was hidden than in any other dome recorded in the 
story of the great petroleum adventure, and has never 
worried a second about the pocketful of millions he lost. 
He made a door-to-door canvass in New York for the 
backing he could not find, and refused a Russian con- 
tract that promised an immediate fortune because he 
could not endure the Muscovite morals. He is stubborn 
and Puritanic and persistent and modest. 

It is doubtful, on the whole, that any one in this world 
has ever had a better time. 

If the scales were balanced, it is probable that the sub- 
marine would be found to be an instrument of mercy 
rather than of murder during the World War. It made 
the bombardment of coastal towns a gamble in which 
the dice were cogged against the bombarders. If the 
command of the seas had rested on big-ship power, 
thousands more men would have died, but the big ships 
were not risked. Not every submarine commander was a 
foul savage at heart. Most of them gave the stubbornly 
brave seamen who navigated rusty little slow steamers 
laden with food toward British ports a chance to escape 
with their lives. The submarine was slandered, after all, 
not because it was an illegal weapon every nation ac- 
cepted it but because it endangered England. 

But Simon Lake's place in history does not depend 
entirely on his creature of the dark waters. It is only that 
the submarine has been his most spectacular creation. 
Of his fifteen hundred patents I say fifteen hundred, 
not even Simon Lake could give the number off-hand- 
others are perhaps quite as important as the one hundred 
and eleven that have to do with the submarine. He found 
an idea in an old powderhorn and made it into an 


airlock, and that airlock made New York's under-river 
tunnels possible. He improved the old break-neck high- 
wheeled bicycle by giving it a safe steering gear, and 
that gear keeps the automobiles of America out of the 
ditches today. His patents for prefabricated houses ante- 
dated all others, else how could he have gotten patent 
papers? Because he had no time to give it, he neglected 
a plan of treatment by vacuum which might be claimed 
as the ancestor of to-day's "iron lung." 

He has preserved an extraordinary simplicity of man- 
ner. Short, inclined toward stoutness, gray-haired, he 
peers at the world through his right eye. When the left 
eye must be called on, a drooping lid is propped by a 
wire frame that has the effect of a monocle. The eye is 
sound, but the muscles were injured while he worked 
of his periscope. He chuckles at merry recollections. He 
has never found it necessary to be profane. Men obey 
well enough. It does not fret his dignity to explain an 
order. If he has been wrong, he is delighted to be put 
right. Men who have been with him for a length of 
time call him "Simon." He detests "skrimshankers and 
belly-achers" and labor racketeers and bargaining poli- 
ticians. He belongs to the old school in which were men 
who paid their debts and did not argue that a world 
can waste its way out of misery and who worked hard 
and saved and valued possessions less than self-respect. 
The two compliments he seems to have valued most came 
from an Austrian admiral and an American mechanic. 
For twenty-five years Popper had, been the chief con- 
structor of the Austrian navy. He had designed a sub- 
marine of his own and was about to built it when he 
met Lake and talked over plans. Later he said: 

"You may be interested to know how you happened 
to get your first order from Austria." 


Lake was interested, of course. 

"I went to Emperor Franz Joseph," said Popper, "and 
told him about you, and asked permission to give you a 
contract. I said, 'His boat is better than mine/ " 

He recognized the mechanic's voice through the hang- 
ings of a restaurant booth one night. A newly hired man 
wanted to know about his new boss: 

"What kind of a man is Lake to work for?" 

"I'll tell you about the Governor," said an old hand. 
"We'd go to hell for him." 


















GOES 128 









THE SEA 176 











DENDS 260 





INDEX 297 


Simon Lake frontispiece 


The Argonaut Junior 60 

A modern submarine 60 

Cross-section view of a mine-planting submarine . 134 

Sketch of the Lake Salvaging Tube 134 

Two famous inventors: Hiram Percy Maxim and 

Simon Lake 158 

The Protector 178 

Interior view of a modern submarine .... 236 

Simon Lake with Captain Koenig, Commander of 

the Deutschland 254 

The Nautilus 288 


Chart showing the sinking of Allied and neutral 
ships in one year of the World War in the area 
surrounding the British Isles 252 



A Small Red-Headed Boy 

THINK it is nonsensical for me to write my 
autobiography at this time. I am only seventy- 
one years old and I have not accomplished one half 
the things I wish to do. I have been talked into it. 

I began life as a bad boy. Nowadays social workers 
would probably call me a problem child. I was a red- 
headed little Ishmaelite who hated every one and was 
hated in return. I was continually in trouble which I 
originated, conducted personally, and usually paid 
for by stripes and solitary confinement on stools and 
in closets. I do not remember ever having been at all 
sorry for the devilish things I did. Nor do I recall 
that I ever surrendered to superior force. My young 
head was often metaphorically bloody, but it was not 

My mother died when I was three years old and my 
father left me in the care of my jtep-grandmodier at 
Pleasantville, New Jersey, and went West. My step- 
grandmother was a puritan of the rigid old school. She 
emphatically believed that children were to be seen 
and not heard and that a spared rod meant a spoiled 
child. Each morning she read a chapter from the 
Bible, and then the household remained on its knees 
while she wrestled mightily with the Lord in prayer. 


I am sure that I benefited by her severe discipline in 
the end, but the immediate result was that I started 
for school each morning with anger in my heart and 
returned home each afternoon surly and defiant. 

At school the fighting started promptly on my ar- 
rival. Looking backward I can see that I was a savage, 
bitter little figure of fun. My step-grandmother was a 
good woman and a just one but she lacked sym- 
pathetic comprehension for a child's troubles. During 
my first year I wore a pair of my grandfather's old 
trousers which had been stagged off at the knee but 
had not been shaped to my small form; they were of 
themselves an invitation to practically continuous 
battling. Add to that the fact that my hair was bel- 
ligerently red and that my face was one huge freckle 
through which ran a network of pale lines. The 
braver boys pulled my hair and did the best they 
could in the fight that followed. Sometimes they 
threw things at me. The girls chanted a rime I still 

Simon, Simon, sucks eggs- 
Sold his wife for duck's eggs. 

I had, quite literally, no friends at school in the 
first few years, nor did I try to make any. My teachers 
saw in me only a little red-headed devil who had a 
part in every disturbance. If I was not fighting I was 
setting others on to fight or planning some impish 
violation of the established order. They were of the 
old school, too that was sixty-four years ago and 
heavy-handed. I might tell the story of one day as I 


remember it, not because it was exceptional al- 
though it was but because it illustrates the peda- 
gogic method in use in Pleasantville. I had done 
something I should not have done. I do not recall 
what it was, but I was distinctly at fault. 

"Simon," ordered Teacher Rogers, "stand at your 

I liked that. It gave me a chance to show off. 

Whenever Rogers took his eyes off me for a second 
I made a face or twisted my body or popped a paper 
wad at one of the other pupils. Rogers could not 
catch me, but he knew what was going on. 

"Go up forward," he ordered, "and stand on my 

I changed my tactics. Wearing a face as angelically 
innocent as possible under my handicap of freckles, 
I moved my feet a fraction of an inch at a time, until 
I managed to knock over the teacher's big bottle of 
ink, from which he filled the bottles on our desks. 
Rogers slapped me hard, from behind, and although 
I had known precisely what was going to happen I 
could not have seen those tense faces and popped eyes 
on the floor below me without knowing I pretended 
to be startled and kicked out and hit him hard, in a 
tender place. Then he lost his temper. 

"You little-!" 

I do not know what it was he growled under his 
breath. But he took a scarf from one of the girls, tied 
it under my arms, and hung me up, crucifixion fash- 
ion, to a huge nail from which the map of the United 
States had been hanging for the geography class. The 


school watched me, horrified. Teacher Rogers turned 
his back to walk to his desk. I made a circular swing 
with one stoutly shod foot and kicked out the win- 
dow. Rogers snatched me from the wall, white-faced 
with anger. 

"I'll fix you!" he said. 

He locked me in the dark closet under the stairs, 
where the janitor kept the brooms, buckets, and 
other paraphernalia of his office and Rogers hung his 
hat and coat during school hours. I was hardly in it 
before I was out again, for I found out how to turn 
the key in the big, old-fashioned lock. Opening the 
door admitted light to the closet and I made some 
discoveries. There was a pot of lampblack, for one 
thing, and with it I blacked the banisters down which 
the children used to slide at recess. The amount of 
harm this did to their clothes later proved to be al- 
most incalculable. Rogers' dinner pail was on the 
closet shelf, and as a matter of course I ate his din- 
ner. Then I closed the closet door upon myself and 
waited upon events. The lunch hour was almost over 
before Rogers came to me. 

"You won't have time now to go home for your 
lunch," he said. "Here's a nickel. Go over to the store 
and get yourself something to eat." 

I was no longer hungry, but I used that nickel to 
the best possible advantage. At the store I bought a 
handful of the red-pepper drops once so popular with 
practical jokers. The pepper effect does not begin 
until the candy has been almost completely melted 
away and it can only be ended through the merciful 


processes 'of time. I stood at the gate as the girls re- 
turned from their homes at the end of the lunch 
hour, and gave each a mouthful of these demoniac 
confections. They were all crying bitterly when the 
bell sounded and I went into school. 

"Lake, stand up/* said Rogers. 

"Yes, Mr. Puttyhead." 

We called Rogers "Puttyhead'* in our innocent 
childish way, but no one had ever addressed him in 
that fashion to his face. To this day I do not know 
whether it was a deliberate or an intentional offense. 
At any rate he carried on as best he could for the 
remainder of the day. Then he took me by the tip of 
my left ear and led me to my step-grandmother's 
home, a mile and a half away. He was a tall man, and 
he lifted me until I scuttled along on tiptoe for the 
entire distance. My ear still shows the result of that 
frog's march, for the cartilage was partially dislocated. 
Rogers did not say anything to me about the dinner 
I had stolen from him. Nor, looking backward again, 
have I any hard feelings. Times and methods were 
ruder than they are to-day. From the point of view 
of Pleasantville in 1874 or thereabouts I deserved all 
I got. 

The battle-ground was changed when my father re- 
turned from his stay in the West, but the tactics re- 
mained the same. I was in continual hot water. We 
moved from Pleasantville to Camden, near Philadel- 
phia, and in punishment for some deviltry the teacher 
gave me a little touch of Chinese torture. He forced 
me to sit under the spout of the water-tank, and fixed 


the spigot so that the water dripped on my head, 
slowly, drop by drop. It was nothing at all at first; 
I grinned confidently at the other pupils, and when 
the teacher's eye was not on them they grinned back. 
But presently I discovered that the Chinese knew 
what they were about when they invented the water 
cure. I never returned to that school. 

For the next three months I played hookey every 
day, and reported at home cheerfully each night with 
my books and my story of the day's happenings. That 
might have gone on indefinitely except for a bit of 
bad luck. The ice was going out of the river with the 
spring freshet, and another boy and I had fun rafting 
down the river on the floating cakes. One cake 
grounded on the wrong side of the river and we had 
to swim ashore. As wet clothes would have been a 
give-away for us, and as we were hardy young ruffians 
anyway, we stripped them off and dried them in the 
sun, while we sat on the float of one of the boat- 
houses. A man who knew me recognized us my red 
hair was a beacon which could be seen from a dis- 
tanceand told my father. 

"Tell me about this, son," said he. 

He was a stern man but an understanding one. 
Perhaps the water cure from which I had suffered 
turned him to my defense. At any rate he did not 
punish me, and we moved to Philadelphia. There I 
had the first bit of happiness I can associate with my 
school years. My new teacher was a very pretty and 
charming girl and, school-boy fashion, I fell head 
over heels in love with her. Perhaps the obvious de- 


votion of the red-headed, freckle-faced kid who had 
come to her with a bad reputation attracted her. Per- 
haps she liked me for some of the better qualities I 
had been so studiously concealing. At all events I 
became her prize pupil one of the teacher's pets on 
whom I had been conducting merciless war all my 
scholastic life and from that time on I stood at the 
head of my classes. I had never bothered to study in 
other schools and had affected a hardy disdain for the 
details of clothing and toilet, but now I became posi- 
tively dandified. 

My father sent me to a coeducational boarding- 
school at Fort Plain, New York, to take a business 
course. I had ceased to be a rebel, but I had no liking 
for more learning. Already my tastes were being chan- 
neled in the way I later followed. I liked to make 
plans and play with tools, but as my father thought 
I should know something of business methods, I sub- 
mitted. The verb "submitted" is used because it ac- 
curately states the case. My father was a disciplinarian, 
but he did not attempt to force me against my will, 
once I had established a position which I could de- 

Armed warfare was supplanted by school-boy 
pranks at the coed school. I got into a good deal of 
minor trouble, but my recollection is that the head 
of the school had a turn of humor and knew almost 
as much about boy-nature as the boys themselves. 
One night we raided the store-room, climbing down 
a wall on rope ladders and opening the store-room 
door with keys I had made from a wax impression. 


Decidedly I could not have been at this time a joy to 
any teacher's heart. We managed to get back to our 
rooms in safety with our burdens of pies and cans of 
preserves, and our pockets filled with apples. There 
we found the head of the school lying in wait for us. 
He punished us, but he also laughed a little. 

It was while I attended this school that I had the 
closest call of my life, in spite of the fact that most 
of my years have been spent in working with sub- 
marine boats and explosives and other devices usually 
considered dangerous. The girls were to give a show 
"for girls only" and laughed at us when we said we 
would manage to see it by hook or crook. With an- 
other boy I got into the locked attic which covered 
the entire house, and from which we planned to get 
on the roof through trap-doors and lower ourselves 
down to the windows of the hall in which the girls 
were giving their show. 

We had no means o lighting our way. Half-way 
across the floor, with one foot in air, I withdrew that 
foot and put it back where it had been. Then I got 
down on the bare floor and felt about with my hands. 
I had actually been about to step into an open shaft 
planned for an elevator which had never been built. 
There were no openings on the floors below and no 
one in the house knew of its existence. What made 
me stop, foot in air, and feel about in the darkness 
for an unknown danger I shall never know. Perhaps 
the explanation is perfectly simple. I was moving for- 
ward very slowly and carefully, in order that no un- 
toward noise should signal our enterprise to those on 


the floor below, and it is possible that I merely 
lowered my foot past the accustomed level and auto- 
matically took alarm when I found no support. The 
shaft was sixty feet deep. 

In 1884 I returned home and told my father that 
I was through with school. I was then seventeen years 


Invention Runs in the Lake Blood 

JULES VERNE was in a sense the director-general 
U of my life. When I was not more than ten or 
eleven years old I read his Twenty Thousand Leagues 
under the Sea and my young imagination was fired. 
This generation may have forgotten that Verne was 
a great scientist as well as the writer of the most ro- 
mantic fiction of his day. I began to dream of making 
voyages under the waters, and of the vast stores of 
treasure and the superb adventures that awaited sub- 
aqueous pioneers. But with the impudence which is 
a part of the equipment of the totally inexperienced 
I found fault with some features of Jules Verne's 
Nautilus and set about improving on them. 

This was not the complete absurdity in fact that 
it may seem when set down in black and white. 
There is a strong strain of inventiveness in the Lake 
blood. Tools run in our blood stream and drawing- 
boards and calipers are household necessities. Before 
I was nine years old I had taken my stepmother's 
sewing-machine completely apart and put it together 
again, and it ran better than it ever did. My father 
was a watch repairer in his off moments. For that 
matter, he was anything which had to do with tools. 


In his little workroom he had a saucer filled with 
spare parts for watches, new and old. 

"May I work with them?" I asked one day. 

"Don't lose any" was his permission. 

I put a watch together which not only ran but 
keeps time accurately to-day. Its only eccentricity is 
that it will run only while lying on its back, due to 
the fact that the one balance-wheel I could find had 
been intended for a watch of an entirely different cal- 

Possibly the fact that during my earlier school 
years I was something of a belligerent pariah, and 
was, therefore, cut off from the normal contacts with 
my kind shaped my likings, but in any case I always 
preferred messing around with tools to playing with 
the youngsters of my age. Drawing plans to scale was 
as much fun for me as solitary sailing in my boat. 

In 1881 we moved to Toms River, New Jersey, 
from Philadelphia, and for a time I lived a charmed 
life. I sailed my boat, drew plans, worked with tools, 
and, so far as I can recollect, was not interfered with 
at all, so long as I obeyed the household rules about 
meal hours and bedtimes. I had been so excited by 
Jules Verne's Nautilus that I began to read every- 
thing which might have a bearing on the problems 
attending my proposed penetration of the depths of 
the sea. It was at this time that I studied Steel's 
Natural Philosophy, and learned of the diving-bell. 
It was, perhaps, natural that the kind of a boy I was 
should draw plans for a submarine which would have 
a diving compartment. 


That early submarine of mine was the predecessor 
of all the submarines there are on the seas to-day. 
Until the paper accouchement of my Argonaut no 
one had invented a submarine which could submerge 
with an even keel, instead of progressing in the dis- 
tressing hops and bounds which had made the first 
attempts at submarining impracticable. My Argonaut 
could be driven under water for an indefinite period, 
which is more than could be said of any other pro- 
posed submarine of the day. It had wheels on which 
it could run along the sea bottom as readily as an 
automobile can traverse a paved highway; they dem- 
onstrated their practicability later by obtaining for 
me a rich contract with Russia. 

My plans for the Argonaut included an air-lock, 
which was the first practical application to my knowl- 
edge of this principle in connection with a diving- 
bell. Verne's Nautilus had been provided with a div- 
ing compartment which could be opened to the sea, 
but which was manifestly inconvenient and danger- 
ous. I added an intermediate air-lock and devised an 
air-pump, by which the air-pressure could be raised in 
the diver's compartment until it equaled the hydro- 
static pressure of the water outside. Then the diver's 
door could be opened, and no water could enter the 
compartment so long as the water- and air-pressure 
equaled each other. 

The intermediate air-lock permits the occupants 
of the submarine to pass back and forth between the 
living quarters of the submarine (in which the air- 
pressure is always maintained at the substantially 


normal atmospheric pressure of about fifteen pounds 
per square inch) and the diving compartment, in 
which the air-pressure must be increased 0.433 pounds 
per square inch for every additional foot the sub- 
marine submerges when the bottom exit door is open. 
One can spear fish or scoop up crabs or walk on 
the bottom of the sea with ease as long as one keeps 
one's head in the air-filled compartment. 

I knew nothing of the "bends" in those days. I 
doubt if any one else did. They were the deviltries 
of later days, when high air-pressure became the rule 
in working in caissons and in New York's under- 
river tunnels. My little Argonaut had been planned 
only for submersions to a shallow depth in the waters 
around Toms River. The original designs called for 
"wooden construction throughout, and man-power on 
the gears that drove the propeller, but it carried in 
it every important development in submarining 
which the past half-century has seen. 

I do not suggest that some one else might not have 
seen the possibilities later, but only that I saw them 
first. Years later Charles Sooysmith, head of the Foun- 
dation Company of New York, said to me: 

"I got my idea for using the air-lock in driving 
caissons for foundations and in building tunnels 
under the river from your early work. Much obliged, 

In turn I had had my idea from some forgotten 
Lake who had hunted deer, and perhaps Indians, in 
this same country around Toms River. Among the 
innumerable things of doubtful utility which had 


little by little accumulated in the household was an 
old powder-horn. The man who had first boiled and 
scraped that horn had had a turn toward artistry, for 
I recall that it was covered with ornamentation, 
scratched in with the point of a hunting knife. One 
day when I was completely stuck with my air-lock 
plan I knew what I wanted but I did not know how 
to get it I picked up this old horn and began to fid- 
dle with it. The small end carried a curious double 
charger, the like of which I have never seen since. 
When it was pressed down, a charge of powder ran 
into it from the horn, and when it was full the flow 
was automatically cut off. That gave me the idea for 
the air-lock. If it had been adopted by modern sub- 
marine constructors there would have been fewer 
losses of life in submarine disasters. It is quite feasible 
for the crew of a helpless and sunken submarine to 
reach the surface through the air-lock if proper escape 
devices have been provided. 

That old powder-horn recalls an incident that is 
perfectly incredible. No one can believe it, yet I am 
sure it is true. While my father was in the West, fol- 
lowing the death of my mother, he had picked up an 
old cap-and-ball revolver. It was a sort of a blunder- 
buss affair, carrying an enormous round bullet, and 
with a hinged ramming mechanism attached to the 
side. I had found it during my rummaging among 
the plunder in the attic and promptly commandeered 
it. It had its part in the games I played with myself, 
and when I could get money enough to buy powder 
and shot and taps I would go hunting with it. In 


order to forestall any 'possible objections I hid the 
old revolver under the front porch. Then I forgot 
about it, and when the hired man quite accidentally 
found it on one of his clean-up expeditions a house- 
hold panic followed: 

"Burglars hid it there/' said our womenfolk. "We 
will all be murdered in our beds." 

That this did not make sense is perfectly evident, 
but the to-do persisted until I came forward and 
told my story. My interest in hunting was reawak- 
ened by the return of the old gun; with some diffi- 
culty I got hold of ammunition for it and went hunt- 
ing. Exposure to the salt air of the Jersey coast had 
ruined it, however. The barrel was almost plugged 
with rust, and its other parts were in a decayed and 
ruinous condition. That meant nothing to me, for 
ballistics has never been one of my preoccupations. 
I loaded it with a full charge of powder and shot, 
aimed it at a bird, and fired. The old pistol blew up 
in a shower. Bits of it rained down all around me. 
The bird witness of the explosion fell dead. 

No one will believe me, but it is a fact that there 
was not the tiniest mark of any sort on that bird's 
body. It must have been literally scared to death. 

It could not have been very much more surprised 
than I was a little later, however. My Uncle Jesse 
had taken a fancy to me, and I spent a good deal of 
time in his workshop. One day I was hard at work 
with a foot-punch. You placed whatever it might be 
that you wished to punch in the jaws, and then 


stamped on the foot-treadle. Just as I was about to 
stamp Uncle Jesse called to me: 

"What are you making, son?" he asked. 

"A thing for my boat/' I replied, punching hard. 
His question had taken my mind off my business. 
The punch went through the gadget and my fore- 
finger, too, and held fast. I called over to Uncle Jesse: 
"I can't get my finger out/' 

"Why don't you take your foot off the treadle?" 
he asked. 

The doctors said that my finger would have to 
come off, but my father would not listen to them. 
It was saved after months of bandaging, although 
even yet it is nothing to boast of. My natural resent- 
ment at this accident was tempered, however, by the 
fact that it relieved me of the daily half-hour of piano 
practice on which my stepmother had insisted. I had 
precisely the same amount of liking for the piano 
that any growing boy has who prefers to spend his 
time in the open air when he is not fooling around 
with tools. I figured I was well ahead of the game. 

My Uncle Jesse Lake was a remarkable man. He 
was a seafarer by preference and kept two schooners 
constantly in commission. Between times he ran his 
foundry and a farm and did inventing as a side line. 
He had an old treadmill on the farm, which was oper- 
ated by horses and furnished the power for various 
farm operations. One year he got a contract to build 
a road across a patch of swamp, but ran into difficulty 
when the ground was so soft that he could not haul 
his wagons over it. So he sat down to think. 


"I'll just turn that old treadmill upside down," 
said he. 

He did and it worked. The horses worked the 
treadmill, and the cleats on which they climbed 
marched over the soft mire and hauled the wagons 
behind them. It would be difficult to overemphasize 
the importance of this almost accidental discovery. 
It was the precursor of the caterpillar tractors that 
are in use everywhere in farm and road-making oper- 
ations and a theory without which the tanks used 
in modern warfare would be impossible. Later he 
built a steam-driven tractor locomotive which pulled 
a whole train of gravel cars. This was used to build 
the first highway from Pleasantville, New Jersey, to- 
Atlantic City, a distance of about five miles across, 
a soft swamp that had hitherto been impassable. 

He sold to Cyrus McCormick for fifteen hundred 
dollars the device for lifting the cutter bar of mowing- 
machines over stumps and stones, which made the 
mower a really practical article. One day he found 
he needed a more powerful winch with which to pull 
his schooners up on the waysso he made one which 
has never been excelled. He was as sure of his winch 
as Archimedes was of his levers. "Give me a place 
to tie to and I could pull the earth and moon to- 

Uncle Jesse invented the whistling buoy and 
anchored the device on Sandy Hook for a trial. It 
was so successful that some one took the idea and got 
a patent on it. 

His inventions were not always so practical. One 


year he invented shoes with which to walk on water. 

"We'll try 'em out on Fish Creek," he said. My 
father and Wesley Lake went with him to a place on 
Fish Creek, between Pleasantville and what is now 
Atlantic City, where he tied on his shoes and started 
for his stroll. They worked all right, too. He was 
getting along fine until he turned his head to look 
at something and capsized. Uncle Jesse was held head 
down in the water with the shoes on top until Father 
and Wesley rescued him. He threw the shoes away. 

Uncle Jesse and Uncle Ezra invented a flying- 
machine which had at least a hint of practicality in 
it, for Ezra flew in it. But he picked the wrong place 
for his flight. He set it up in one gallery of the 
Pleasantville church and undertook to fly across the 
church and land in the opposite gallery. He flew, but 
he did not fly far enough and landed with a crash 
in the pews. The story is still a joke in the Lake 

Other Lakes went in for invention. My Grand- 
father Lake made what was perhaps the first practical 
seed-planting machine; his cousin Vincent designed 
an excellent typewriting machine and was one of the 
inventors of the old Calligraph typewriter. His first 
machine was shown at an exhibition in Brooklyn not 
many years ago. Risley Lake, another cousin, with 
his brother Vincent, invented what is now known as 
the offset device for color printing, and David Lake 
we spoke of him always as "D" invented the shoe- 
lasting machine, made money out of it, and retired 
from business as a young man. Ira Lake had made a 


workable telephone when Alexander Graham Bell 
announced his initial success, and Ira dropped out. 

My father invented the shade-roller for windows, 
and put it on the market about the time that the 
Hartshorn shade-roller was also patented. The Lake 
and Hartshorn rollers were sufficiently unlike to in- 
vite competition, and both men did very nicely for 
years. Then the patents expired and Hartshorn out- 
smarted father. Every other man who knew how to 
add ratchets to round sticks went into the shade- 
roller business and the market was flooded. After a 
time my father gave it up. Hartshorn had plenty of 
money and kept on. "Buy a Hartshorn roller if you 
want a good roller," he advertised. Perhaps that was 
not the phrase he used, but that was the meaning. 
The men who were new at the business had been 
using green wood and cheap springs, and their cus- 
tomers were glad to throw away their contraptions 
and buy the Hartshorn roller. Father had not known 
how to advertise his business and was ruined. 

I am afraid that the Lakes are not interested in 
keeping money after they get it. Most of them have 
made comfortable livings and had good homes, but 
I know of none who became a multimillionaire, 
although many have been pioneers in various activi- 
ties. John Lake was one of the founders of Gravesend, 
now South Brooklyn, in 1645; his son William Lake 
took up land in what is now Atlantic County, in 
South Jersey, and his descendants were active in the 
development of that section. 

My 'great-grandfather surveyed the Shore Road 


which for years was the only roadway along the coast 
from Cape May to South Amboy. I remember that 
as a boy my grandfather showed me the remains of 
the wooden floors of the evaporating ponds his father 
had built, where a rough salt was extracted from sea 
water. This is now Atlantic City, but at that time 
there was not a house on the island and the only use 
made of it was as a pasture for cattle. When summer 
campers discovered it grandfather and his brothers 
built the first roadway over the meadows and bridge 
over the Thoroughfare. This was the only means of 
communication until the railways came, followed 
by the superb system of boulevards over which the 
cars stream unendingly to-day. 

The Lakes have been active in the temperance 
movement, too, ever since my great-grandfather and 
Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration 
of Independence, traveled together through the 
country preaching against strong drink. Sometimes 
the drinkers disagreed with them so violently that 
they were compelled to .call for the protection of the 
county sheriffs. Pleasantville did not have a licensed 
saloon for more than one hundred and fifty years. 

In 1881 my grandfather owned the island called 
Peck's Beach on which Ocean City was built. As a 
member of the New Jersey Legislature he succeeded 
in having a law enacted forbidding the sale of liquor 
or the operation of bawdy houses in Ocean City, 
under penalty of the forfeiture of the land on which 
an offending establishment stood. 

His death was caused by his activity in protecting 


the coast-line of the island against the storms which 
have eroded so many miles of the New Jersey shore- 
line. He employed many men to cut down brush 
and riprap the waterfront, so that instead of the sand 
being torn away by the undertow it was washed up, 
becoming a part of the solid ground. Many handsome 
homes now stand on the northern pan of the island 
which was saved by his forethought. In showing an 
Italian workman how to handle an ax he cut his 
foot one day; blood poisoning set in and he died. 

The temperate and active lives led by most of the 
Lakes have conferred the blessings of great physical 
strength and ripe age upon them. My father is ninety 
years old and still quite vigorous, so I look forward 
to at least ten years more of activity. 

I am also a descendant of Jeremy Adams, one of the 
founders of Hartford, Connecticut, in 1636. His name 
appears on the Founders' Monument in Hartford. 
Jeremy was Indian Agent and, by appointment of the 
King, the Keeper of the Public Inn. His home was 
torn down a comparatively few years ago to make 
room for the buildings of the Travelers Insurance 

Old Jeremy seems to have been a fast thinker. The 
Colony got into difficulties with the Crown and it was 
essential that the original copy of the charter under 
which the Colony was operating be preserved. A 
meeting of the General Court was being held in 
Jeremy's Inn and the charter was laid on the table 
while the dispute raged. 


"This room is too hot," said Jeremy, "One of you 
serving men open the windows." 

The windows were opened, a brisk Connecticut 
wind blew in, extinguishing the candles, and Jeremy 
tucked the charter under his coat. Perhaps he was 
suspected, but at all events he was not searched, and 
later he hid the charter in the Charter Oak, where it 
remained in safety. One of the later Adams moved 
to New Jersey and married into the Lake family. 

With this background of pioneering it is perhaps 
natural that my interests have been more in doing 
things than in making money. I remember that Frank 
Miller, then president of the City National Bank of 
Bridgeport, said at a public dinner: 

"I have known Simon for years and I am fond of 
him, but he doesn't know the value of a dollar or 
how to keep it after he gets it." 

"That's probably true," was my reply. "But I had 
rather die broke because I had been spending my 
money in doing worth-while things than sit around 
cutting coupons." 


Befriending the Oyster Pirates 

WHEN I first conceived the idea of the sub- 
marine, as a school-boy at Toms River, New 
Jersey, I was fascinated by my idea of the diving com- 
partment. I felt that if I could step out of my sub- 
marine-which-was-to-be right onto the ocean floor 
I would soon be able to outmarvel Verne himself. 
But I only had the idea. I knew nothing of air- 
pressures, nor how long it is possible to live and 
breathe stale air over and over again, nor what takes 
place in air that has been exhausted by overuse. 
None of the books at my disposition contained any 
information. No one I knew could tell me anything. 
It was evident that I must work out my problem for 

Fortunately for me the means for this was at hand. 
In those days the magazine Golden Days was the 
friend, guide, and instructor of every boy who could 
scrape together the dollars for a year's subscription 
or wheedle his folks into subscribing for him. In each 
number were suggestions of devices which could be 
put together by boys, and which so far as my recollec- 
tion goes were always enticing but often dangerous 
to life and limb. During my residence at Toms River 
in 1882 the magazine carried elaborate directions for 


the making of a canvas canoe. I made one and found 
it the crankiest craft ever put together. If you winked 
an eye she either spurted out from under you or 
tipped over, or did some other silly thing. But I ex- 
perimented with her patiently, and finally located her 
center of gravity; after insuring her static stability by 
careful ballasting, I managed to have a good deal of 

It was evident to me that if I tipped that canoe over 
and held her bottom side up in the water the cavity 
of her hull would contain a certain quantity of air. 
My problem was to overturn and then come up under 
her and see how long I could go on breathing. It 
appears now that I at that time lacked that passion 
for exactitude which marks the true scientist, for I do 
not remember that I had any way of measuring the 
air-content, and I certainly could not expect my 
home-made watch to time me accurately after a dive 
through the water of Toms River. However, I upset 
the canoe, put my head up inside her, and waited 
patiently to see how long I could stand it. My first 
research into the problems which air presents to the 
submarine engineer was abruptly ended. My canvas 
canoe was righted by a strong hand. 

"What's the matter with ye, Simon?" asked an anx- 
ious voice. "Be ye hurt?*' My explanation of my pur- 
pose in overturning the canoe was only a confirma- 
tion of what Toms River had long suspected about 
my intellectual furnishings, but that was of no con- 
sequence to me. I had been able to live without fresh 


air for approximately half an hour, and that gave me 
a point of departure for my calculations. 

Before I was fourteen years of age I had completed 
the plans for the first Argonaut. I left them in my 
father's desk when I went away to school. When I 
came home again, completely distasteful of schools 
and teachers and hungry to get my hands again on 
tools, I showed them to him. 

"They look all right to me, Simon," he said, after 
he had studied them for a time. "But what's the 
meaning of this? And this?" 

I explained the things that had puzzled him. 

"Let these plans alone for a time, son," he advised. 
"The best engineers in the world have tried to solve 
these problems and have failed. Give yourself a little 
more time." 

This was not welcome advice, of course. I had no 
money, for a school-boy rarely is able to accumulate 
capital, and no one would back me, and I was wholly 
possessed with my submarine demon. But there was 
nothing I could do about it except to go to work and 
make money, and ultimately carry out my plans. I 
bluntly refused to go back to school. 

"You should have some technical training," father 
said. "I would like you to go to a good technical 

"I want to go into the shop," I said stubbornly. 

Father had moved his little joundry from Toms 
River to Ocean City. TheLake family had founded 
both Ocean City and Atlantic Highlands as shore re- 
sorts with strong religious influences and control, and 


were not only interested in their temporal success 
but in the quality of their morals. Father thought his 
little foundry would make money if it did not its 
door would quickly be closed and that it would 
afford employment to about thirty men, thus bene- 
fiting the town. Tom Cooney was the boss molder. 

"I can make a molder of the lad," he said, after he 
had watched me work in the foundry for a few days. 
He was a good man and he made a first-rate molder 
of me. I was then fourteen years old, and I weighed 
145 pounds. I was fast and tireless and filled with 
young ambition to be the best man in the shop. 
Pretty soon I had a bench of my own. Then I teamed 
with another man who was the fastest man in the 
shop in some operations, just as I was the fastest in 
others. When we worked together we could best any 
team in the foundry. Then I began to look into the 
higher branches of the art. We had a man named 
Forrester who was a very good pattern-maker, and 
he taught me how to make a gear-wheel, which was a 
test of proficiency. I began to go to Franklin Institute 
in Philadelphia three days a week to study mechani- 
cal drawing. I could see that if I were to make a 
really first-rate submarine I must know something of 
many things. 

When I was eighteen my father had to go west on 
business, and he left me in charge of the foundry. 
The thirty men had been working for us for a long 
time. They had their homes in Ocean City, other 
employment was almost non-existent, and their rela- 
tions with the Lakes had been admirably friendly. 


Neither my father nor I suspected that any trouble 
could possibly come up. But he was hardly out of 
town when the men staged what we would call nowa- 
days a sit-down strike. One of the men came to me. 

"We've got to get more money, Simon," he said, 
"or we quit." 

The word "Mister" had, I suppose, never been 
heard inside the foundry walls. Managers and men 
knew each other by their first names. The other men 
sat down by their benches and grinned at me. They 
evidently thought that they had the boy by the short 
hair. If I did not give them the increases they asked 
I would be shown up as an incompetent manager 
who had had his factory shot from under him on his 
first day in charge. 

"That's good," I said heartily. "You know about as 
much about the factory as I do, John. You know we 
are not making much money just managing to keep 
open so the men can have some work and draw some 
pay. But this gives me a chance to shorten the pay- 
roll. I'll discharge a few of the men right now and 
you're the first to go, John." 

"Wait a minute," said John hurriedly. "Let me 
talk to the boys." 

In no time at all they were hard at work. Perhaps 
we lost ten minutes in the sit-down strike no more. 
The men grinned at me now and then during the day 
and then forgot it. As they might say nowadays: "Any- 
how, we tried. You can't blame a fellow for trying." 

On one occasion my father called me into his little 


"Simon," he said critically, your 'clothes are not 
very good." 

They were not, of course. Every waking minute, 
almost, was being spent in the foundry. I did not 
need good clothes. But father seemed to think that 
the not-exacting standards of the family were being 
lowered by my dress. 

"Here is some money," he said. "Go into Phila- 
delphia to-morrow and buy some clothes." 

I meant well, but my flesh is weak when exposed to 
the printed word. Before I got around to buying 
clothes I stepped into a book-store to browse around, 
as the clerks say, and came home with plenty of new 
books but no new clothes. This was one of the really 
important days of my life. One of the books I bought 
was Haswell's Mechanic's and Engineer's Pocket 
Book, which was to be my Bible for years to come. 
Charles Haswell was the first chief engineer of the 
United States Navy, and for more than forty years 
the official measurer of the New York Yacht Club. 
No other marine engineer of his time could be com- 
pared to him, in the opinion of the old salts who de- 
manded facts in their operations and were only mildly 
concerned with theory. Old-timers will agree that 
"Uncle Charley" was one of the notable men of his 

Haswell's mind operated entirely in mathematical 
terms. Later he became my first stockholder. 

"How old are you, Uncle Charley?" some one 
asked one day. 


"If I live until Thursday/' he replied, "I'll be 
ninety-eight point seven.'* 

When I got home with my load of books my father 
frowned mildly at me. 

"I'm sorry about the clothes," I explained. "But 
after I got the books I had to have there was no 
money left." 

I studied Haswell's Pocket Book until it was dog's- 
eared. The old book is still on my desk and even 
now I sometimes refer to it. 

It was about this time that I first came in contact 
with the old high-wheel bicycle. The extremely lucky 
present generation has never used this mechanical 
beast, and for its information it may be stated that 
the first practical form the bicycle assumed was that 
of a very high wheel tailed by a very small wheel. 
Mounted on top of the high wheel the venturesome 
rider kicked vigorously at the pedals. If the high 
wheel encountered an obstacle suddenly, he fell on 
his nose and the two wheels fell on him. If at speed 
the high wheel hit a rock or corn-cob or anything 
else at an angle, the handle-bars twisted out of his 
hands and he dived sidewise into the ditch while 
the wheel executed an intricate wriggle and with un- 
failing accuracy fell over him again. 

It seemed to me that something could be done 
about this, and in 1887 I patented a steering device 
which enabled the rider of a high wheel to retain 
possession of the handle-bars even under a consider- 
able twist. An adaptation of the same scheme is used 


on the steering-gear of all automobiles nowadays. If 
the gear were held without any chance for play when 
the wheels strike an obstacle every automobile in the 
world would be in the ditch. This patent was granted 
on May 24, 1887, and I had fairly started on my 
career as an inventor. Since then I have had over 
two hundred patents granted me in the United States 
and foreign countries. One hundred and eleven have 
to do with submarines or their mechanisms. Twenty- 
five of my patents are now in use on submarines 
everywhere. Without them there could be no practi- 
cal submarines. 

My improved steering-gear for high-wheel bicycles 
proved to be practicable. I had sailed a boat from the 
time I was big enough to haul on a rope, and I was 
familiar with the manner in which a steering-wheel 
fought the helmsman in a heavy sea. I therefore 
planned an extension of my improved steering-gear 
for small-boat use. There was a market anywhere 
along the Atlantic seaboard, but it seemed to me that 
a better one might be found in Chesapeake Bay. The 
bay was at that time producing more and perhaps 
better oysters than any other body of water in the 
world. They were dredged for from the decks of small 
sailing-vessels, and to haul the heavy dredges aboard 
a device known as a "winder" was used. The "i" is 
pronounced as in wine. It consisted of a winch and a 
winding handle. Not infrequently the dredge would 
catch on an underwater obstruction, as the vessel 
sailed along, and snatch the handle out of the hands 
of the men at work "winding." Many a good man has 


been killed by a blow on head or chest from the heavy 

I had a simple little scheme for stopping that back- 
firing of the winding handle, and I took it and my im- 
proved steering-gear to Baltimore for sale to the oys- 
termen. This was in 1888. Not long ago I saw two 
steering-gears that I had put on in 1891 in use on 
oyster sloops in Baltimore. The operation of putting 
the safety gear on a steering-wheel was not a com- 
plicated one, and I used to row out in the bay at 
night and attach them while the fleet was at anchor. 
At thirty-five dollars each I made a very decent living. 

I did not realize it then or if I did it was just an 
occasion for laughter but I was probably the best 
friend the oyster pirates of Chesapeake Bay ever had. 
Those were hard days. Morals and ideals had not 
been burnished to perfection. The oystering business 
was about as tough as any business you can think of, 
and the oystering captains were as rough as any of 
the bully mates on American deep-sea clippers. Men 
employed on the sloops were paid off at the end of 
the season. If there was a shortage of dredgers no cap- 
tain had any hesitancy in shanghaiing as many men 
as he needed, with the help of the saloon keepers on 
Boston Street. Some of the worst of the captains were 
reputed to pay off at the end of the season by "jibing 
the main boom" a humorous way of saying the men 
were murdered. 

My winding-gear was noiseless, whereas the clank 
of the pawls on the old-fashioned winders could be 
heard for miles on a calm night. The best of the 


oyster-beds were privately owned and were protected 
by guards, and many of the state-owned beds were 
forbidden to dredgers. As long as oyster-dredging was 
a noisy and unconcealable business these laws were 
obeyed except by the more desperate of the oyster 
pirates, but my noiseless gear enabled even the rea- 
sonably law-abiding men to drift over a guarded bed 
and scoop up a sloop-load without arousing the law. 
Many a life has been saved on the Chesapeake Bay 
by my improved steering-gear and my safety-assured 
winders. But how many million bushels of oysters 
have been stolen by their aid is any one's guess. 



First Contact with Big Business 

HAD been living a sheltered life. The Lake 
family is God-fearing and temperate. The men 
in my father's family were sound, self-respecting 
Americans. Toms River was a village with a dash of 
sea air, and Ocean City was professedly religious in 
tone. Profanity and drunkenness were as rare as arson 
or wife-beating. In Baltimore I was to have my first 
contact with the person known as the up-and-coming 
business man. I did not like him. 

I had been making a very satisfactory living with 
my steering-gear and my winders, for the Baltimore 
oystermen bought about as many as I could supply. 
As the oyster-boats could often be worked on only 
at night, I spent my daytime working at new ideas 
and made sales and delivered my goods at night 

Baltimore was then a canning center, and the 
A. Booth Company was the largest canner. Booth's 
canning was done by machine, but it was not satis- 
factory. Two machines and a dozen men were needed 
to cap 15,000 cans a day. I went in to see Booth 
with plans for a new machine. 

"Show me/' said the head of the company. 

Before I could show, it was necessary to build a 
machine. As usual, I had not enough money. But I 



went to New York, enlisted three moneyed men, and 
formed the Lake Capping Machine Company. I 
thought they were very nice men indeed, for they 
were kind and hearty to me. As soon as I had shown 
them my plans and told my prospects they agreed to 
put in $10,000. In return they were to have control 
of the company. They told me that this was cus- 
tomary and, indeed, necessary. An inventor, they ex- 
plained, could not be expected to be a good business 
man. They would relieve me of the harassing details 
of bookkeeping and I could devote myself to the 
making of the machines. This seemed a very sound 
idea to me. All inventors who enlist the aid of busi- 
ness men hear the same story. In most cases it seems 
sound to them. 

My friends actually put in $600 in cash. I was to 
draw a salary of $75 a month as soon as I was able to 
get into production. During the preliminary period 
of getting ready to get into production I drew no 
salary. I do not know how my friendly partners 
thought I would live during this time, but that is of 
no consequence. I made my machine and set it up 
for operation. In the Baltimore canning factories the 
men were classed as skilled workers. My machine 
could cap 50,000 cans a day and only two green boys 
were needed to supervise it. 

I was on the highway to fortune, as I thought, but 
it turned into a detour. The Cappers' Union of Bal- 
timore promised to close any canning factory that 
adopted my machine. The Union would have been 
helpless, as a matter of fact, for my machine could 


do the work of forty men, and no Union could stand 
up against that. But the Union bluffed and the can- 
ners capitulated. I was in no position to take an active 
part, for I had completed but one machine, and it 
capped one- and two-pound cans only. The canners 
wanted machines that would cap three-pound cans 
as well. The A. Booth Company was willing to fight 
the Union and contract with me for the machines, 
but quite properly wanted to be certain that I 
would be in a position to supply the spare parts and 
make repairs as needed. The company was fair with 
me, however. 

"We will buy the machine you have on hand if you 
can assure us of protection," said the Booth Company. 
"Then you can go ahead and manufacture others." 

I called on my three backers for more money. 
Everything seemed rosy to me, for sales were certain 
and, what was more important to an inventor, my 
machine would be put in operation. I was so anx- 
ious to get ahead and so desirous of lightening the 
load on my three backers that I offered to forget all 
about my salary until we were able to get into pro- 
duction. Three days' pay was coming to me at this 
time, or approximately four dollars. As a business 
man I expected payment of this sum. My backers 
gave me the first of many shocks I have received in 
dealing with business men. 

"We think it best for you to sell the one machine 
you have built to the A. Booth Company," they wrote 
me. "This will make the company a very considerable 


profit, and with this money in the treasury you Can 
then go ahead and build other machines." 

I replied that the A. Booth Company would not 
only not buy a single machine, but that I would not 
sell it if they were foolish enough to buy, for a break- 
down would put the company at the mercy of the 
Cappers' Union. Before any sale could be made the 
Lake Capping Machine Company must show good 
faith by producing other capping machines. But my 
three backers refused to go on with their agreement 
and put up the remainder of the ten thousand dollars 
they had promised. They were so bemused by the 
opportunity to make a large profit on the single sale, 
which would furnish the backlog for the enterprise 
at no cost to them whatever, that they were simply 
unable to see the other factors. So the Lake Capping 
Machine Company blew up. I never saw them again. 
They had control of the company, and I was helpless, 
but they could not make the machines and they were 
helpless. The company just died. 

I was not as much disappointed as one might think. 
My interest in submarines had never flagged, and it 
had risen higher than ever because of my association 
with the Chesapeake Bay oystermen. I had married 
Miss Margaret Vogel of Baltimore in 1890, and she 
had encouraged me in my almost nightly work on 
plans for submarines. All my life it has been my 
habit to work until midnight, or thereabouts, and 
rise not long after dawn. This is not so much a habit 
of industry as of self-indulgence. I have always been 
so enormously interested in whatever it is I am doing 


that the days are too short for me. I had worked 
out the scheme for the Lake submarine and had de- 
cided to name it the Argonaut, if and when I was 
able to build one. At this time I had no thought of 
building a submarine for naval use. I was possessed 
of my original conviction that a submarine built 
for purely commercial use would be profitable. 

After forty years of practical experience I still think 

One day in 1892 I came home to find my wife 
tremendously excited. 

"Look," she said, pointing to an advertisement in 
one of the Baltimore papers. "The Navy authorities 
are advertising for bids on a submarine." 

"If I win the competition," I said to her, "I'll buy 
you. a lot of pearls." 

The Navy Department had listed certain require- 
ments as essential. In the order of importance they 
were: safety; ease and certainty of operation when 
submerged; speed; endurance; offensive power; sta- 
bility; ability to perceive the object to be attacked. 
For more than a century the Navy Departments of 
several countries had been examining the possibilities 
of submarine navigation. In 1863 the French Navy 
brought out the largest and most efficient submarine 
boat to be launched during the nineteenth century. 
In 1866 Mr. O. S. Halstead of Newark, New Jersey, 
completed a submarine on which the United States 
Government made a partial payment. The Intelligent 
Whale is still to be seen on the Green at the Brook- 
lyn Navy Yard. Some years later Mr. J. P. Holland 


had launched the Fenian Ram, which was designed 
for use against the British Navy during Ireland's war 
for independence. But no satisfactory submarine had 
been produced, although a number of inventors were 
at work on plans. 

"Good luck, Simon/' said my wife when she kissed 
me good-by the morning I started for Washington to 
submit my plans. 

'Til need it." 

But I found that I really needed a good many 
things and luck was only one of them. When I was 
finally ushered into the office of the Secretary of the 
Navy my heart sank low. Here I was, a green young- 
ster of twenty-seven I felt about fourteen years old 
that morningin the presence of more important 
men than I had ever seen in my life. No one sat at 
the Secretary's desk, although from time to time or- 
derlies placed papers on it or took others away. But 
the great room was filled with men who might have 
been anything, only provided it was big enough. 
Those were the days of frock-coats in official life, and 
whiskers, and cable-chains stretching across low-cut 
vests, and large and impressive hats. I sat on a divan, 
my rolled-up plans in my hand, and felt my insignifi- 
cance grow on me. A young man sitting beside me 
spoke in a friendly way. 

"I suppose you're a submarine inventor, too/' he 
said, nodding toward my roll of plans. 

"Are all these men inventors of submarines?" I 

"Oh, no. So far as I know only three are here 


you, and my father, Mr. George A. Baker of Chicago, 
and Mr. John P. Holland of New York/' 

"But who are all these other men?" 

The young man knew his way around. He named 
Senators and Congressmen and lawyers and politicians 
whose names were familiar to me, although I had 
been taking not the slightest interest in politics. 

"There is one of the great New York bankers/' 
said my acquaintance, pointing out a man who was 
buttonholing a Senator. They seemed to be on the 
most intimate terms. There were promoters and 
brokers moving through the crowd. The air was filled 
with tobacco smoke and noise and every one there 
seemed to wear an air of dominance and authority. 
Those who glanced at me seemed not even to see me. 
I felt of less consequence than a page boy. 

"Lakey," I said to myself, "the church may be right, 
but you're in the wrong pew" 

After a time I was permitted to submit my plans. 
No one seemed to be at all interested in them or me. 
No one wanted to talk to me or ask questions. Later 
I was to learn that inventors are not highly regarded 
in government offices. This is said in no spirit of criti- 
cism, for it is a fact that many crack-brains develop 
what their owners think are inventions, and talk a 
witless jargon that is incomprehensible to the trained 
intellect and a violent annoyance to the unfortunate 
clerk who is compelled to listen. Inasmuch as inven- 
tors do invent things and as all progress may be 
traced to inventions, however, it has always seemed 
to me that die Government should make an intelli- 


gent effort to sift out those who have something 
from the many who have nothing. I will have more 
to say of this after a while. 

"That is all for to-day," said the naval officer who 
had receipted for my plans. "The Department will 
communicate with you later." 

I was confident that my plans were superior to 
those of the Holland and Baker submarine. Every 
inventor presumably feels that way. I could name sev- 
eral points of superiority. It seemed to me, too, in 
my almost infantile ignorance of how things are 
done in politics, that my proposition would appeal to 
the chiefs in the Navy Department. I had not sub- 
mitted a bid for the construction of a boat, for the 
very good reason that I had neither money nor 
backers, but I had asked that, if my plans were ac- 
cepted, I be given a position in the capacity of con- 
structor and my boat be built in one of the Navy's 
yards. It seemed to me that this suggestion was both 
practical and a promise of economy. 

What I did not know was that there was the smell 
of business in the building of submarines. Let me 
emphasize that this statement is not necessarily criti- 
cal. The Mends of Mr. Baker and Mr. Holland, one 
or both, had aroused interest in submarines among 
members of Congress. An appropriation of $200,000 
was made, and it was the very natural feeling of those 
who had put this appropriation through that Baker 
and Holland were entitled to the first chance at it. I 
went back to Baltimore hoping to hear from Wash- 
ington on almost every mail. Nothing came from 


Washington, but one day I got a telegram from the 
editor of the New York Tribune. 

"Understand Navy Board has approved your plans" 
something like that "and Lake submarine will be 
built. Will you see reporter for the Tribune in Bal- 

I gave the Tribune that interview, but Mr. Hol- 
land got the contract. Years later I met Admiral 
Baird, who had been a member of the Navy Board. 
This was after I had built successful submarines for 
Russia and Austria and had been engaged in an ad- 
visory capacity by other governments. Krupps of 
Germany had contracted with me also, but the com- 
pany took advantage of a technical opportunity to 
slip out of the agreement, and while it built sub- 
marines of the Lake type it built them on its own. 

Baird said, "Lake, I'm glad to meet you. We should 
have been building your boats all the time. Four of 
the five members of the Board voted for your plans 
in 1893, you know.*' 

"Then why didn't you build my boats?" 

"Because the Navy's advertisement had required 
that a bid be submitted for the construction of a 
submarine. You made no such bid. 

"Four of us," he continued, "wanted to call you 
over to the Navy Yard and have you make up work- 
ing drawings. Then we could build in one of the 
Navy's yards under your supervision. But they beat 

My plans had called for a boat which has since be- 
come known as the level-keel or submersible type, the 


only type of submarine now being built. The Hol- 
land boats were submerged by the operation of a 
horizontal rudder, placed at the stern of the boat, 
and the Baker boats by the use of side propellers which 
could be inclined up or down. The Holland boat was 
at that time called a "diving boat/* and was similar 
to boats which had been built by the Confederates 
during our Civil War, and by French, Spanish, and 
English inventors. They all dived like a fish, and 
sometimes quite as unexpectedly. Many such boats 
have in this way taken the lives of their crews. 

In fact, this type of vessel could not be controlled 
except by the constant juggling of the diving rudders, 
and frequently the most expert helmsman would fail 
to catch her in time to keep her from "broaching," or 
perhaps running her nose into the bottom. One of the 
German diving type drove herself forty-five feet into 
the mud on the bottom of Kiel Harbor, and it took a 
battle-ship to pull her out. A French naval observer, 
after watching a trial of one of the early French sub- 
marines, Le Plongeur, described her progress as "like 
a rubber ball bounding along, alternately striking the 
bottom and then rebounding into the air." The ad- 
vocates of this diving type termed this alternate div- 
ing and broaching "porpoising," and tried to claim 
a credit for such performance, but the fact is that 
their boats could not be controlled. Men had to take 
fixed positions when the boats ran submerged and 
hold on like barnacles to a pier to keep from being 
thrown down and possibly injured. With my level- 
keel boat I was able to maintain sufficient static sta- 


bility to permit the men of the crew to move about 
at will, and to fire torpedoes without the nose of the 
submarine being jumped out of the water. 

The Holland Company had guaranteed a per- 
formance for the Plunger which was not only not 
met at the time, but which no boat ever built has 
been able to meet. But the art of building submarines 
was then in its puling infancy. A few skeptics like 
myself might be found who could place their criticism 
of the Holland boat on scientific ground but there 
were only a few. The extent of ignorance even in pro- 
fessional circles can hardly be understood, now that 
submarines have become a naval commonplace. Along 
with this ignorance was a quality of stupid arrogance, 
which made the life of an unfortunate inventor an 
unhappy one. The feeling of too many officers was 
that a mere civilian should not presume to challenge 
any position they might take. On one occasion I at- 
tempted to discuss my Argonaut with a graduate of 
the Naval Academy at Annapolis, who was in charge 
of certain phases of naval construction. 

"My Argonaut can do thus-and-so," I said. 

"That's impossible," he said brusquely. "Why do 
you try to make me believe a thing like that?" 

"But it is not impossible." I felt as though the 
breath had been beaten out of my body, for the thing 
I had been describing was a commonplace of any 
day's run. "I have done it. I do it every day. I will 
prove it to you any day you will come on board" 

"I tell you it's impossible," he snapped angrily. "I 
am an expert and I know." 


"But I've done it," I repeated. 

"Don't bother me any more/' he said. "I'm busy. 
I've got my letters to get out." 

Yet the thing I had done, the possibility of which 
he denied, was a commonplace to any intelligent 
student of advanced physics, and is being done on 
every submarine built to-day. 


Repulsed by the Navy 

EN I learned that the Holland Company had 
been given the contract to build a submarine 
for the Navy, and that Simon Lake's plans had 
been thrown in the basket I lost my temper. Nature 
had not given me red hair for nothing. It was not 
that I felt any personal pique. The Navy experts 
could do what they pleased with Simon Lake and be 
blessed to them. But when they overlooked my evi- 
dently superior craft in favor of one that I knew 
would not work I was infuriated. 

The best of it is that I was right. My submarine 
when it was built did everything I claimed for it. 

The plans I submitted in 1893 contained several 
features that were new in submarine designing. Pre- 
vious planners had concentrated on the underwater 
capabilities of their boats. It had seemed to me that 
it was also important that a submarine should be able 
to sail on the surface and should be fairly comfort- 
able for her crew. A more or less helpless hulk would 
in the end prove nothing more than a sporting target 
for a surface ship of war, and a crew that suffered 
unduly might be willing to surrender and get away 
from misery. This may not be an idealistic way of 
looking at humanity, but it is not nonsense. 


Therefore I had planned a vessel that could not 
only sail comfortably on the surface, but could make 
progress beneath the surface at any desired depth. 
The distance below the surface was controlled by 
what I called regulating vanes, or hydroplanes; after 
the proper depth had been reached by admitting 
water to the water-ballast compartments, these planes 
would keep the vessel on an absolutely even keel. 
A moment's reflection will show the superiority of 
this method over that used in Holland's Plunger, 
which would have progressed by a series of uncon- 
trollable leaps and bounds, to the intense discomfort 
and even danger of her crew. This was demonstrated 
in other vessels of the Plunger type. 

Nor was my vesselwhich was to have been named 
the Argonaut to be overfilled with machinery. When 
it was finally constructed it proved to be a very livable 
boat. A feature of the plans submitted to the Navy 
Department was that retractable wheels were pro- 
vided, which made it possible to move over the sea 
bottom with ease and certainty. The wheels were to 
prove eminently satisfactory in practice, but they were 
called a dangerous defect when the Naval Board ex- 
amined my plans in 1893. 

"Imagine," one eloquent speaker is said to have 
urged the Board, "the sad fate of the crew of a Lake 
submarine if, in moving blindly over the bottom of 
the sea, it were suddenly to run over the lip of a 

Nothing would have happened, of course. A Lake 
submarine on the bottom of the sea is given negative 


buoyancy. That is, it balances its water ballast and 
air content until it is just the least little bit less than 
buoyant, and so is enabled to stay on the bottom. 
If it were to run over the edge of a precipice, as the 
terror-tricken orator imagined, it would merely float 
slowly toward the bottom. The expulsion of the small- 
est quantity of water would start it rising again. But 
because no one before me had offered to attach wheels 
to the bottom of a submarine, the suggestion seemed 
unnatural and dismaying. The so-called experts could 
not open their minds widely enough to take it in. Of 
course, there were no experts on submarining then, 
for there were no working submarines. 

Another feature of the Lake boat was that a safety 
chamber was included, affording means by which the 
crew could leave the submarine in case of disaster. 
It also provided for a double keel which could be 
released at will, thereby increasing the flotation ca- 
pacity of the boat. Other features which are to be 
found in the successful submarine boats of to-day 
were planned for it. It will hardly be held against me, 
I think, that I got my dander up when the Naval 
Board turned me down. It is not likely that I used the 
modern slang, but I said what any angry modern 
would say: "I'll show 'em." 

There was but one way, and that was by build- 
ing a submarine which would do all I said my Ar- 
gonaut would. I could see that I must produce evi- 
dence the value of which could not be denied if I 
were to get anywhere. It was obvious that I could 
not build a submarine for the Navy, for the Navy did 


not want it. I had neither money nor influence avail- 
able for an attempt on the navies of other countries. 
The one thing I could do, if I could get the money, 
was to build a submarine for commercial purposes. 
That was what I had always wanted to do, anyway. 
Not until my wife saw that advertisement in the 
Baltimore paper had I ever paid much attention to 
the possibilities of submarine use in war. It was the 
thought of reaping the treasures of the seamore 
accurately, of the sea bottomthat had fascinated me. 

New York, then as now, was the money center of 
the country. 

"I'm going to New York and raise money," I told 
my wife. "Then I'll build my Argonaut." 

"Fine, Simon," she said. "That's what you should 

My father had come to Baltimore to help me with 
my business in improved steering devices and dredge- 
gear winders, and I proposed to leave him in charge 
of the establishment while I attacked the citadel. 
Before I could get away for New York it was neces- 
sary to tie up a number of loose ends, of course, 
and before they had all been knotted I read a para- 
graph in one of the Baltimore papers to the effect 
that the Navy Department might reopen the competi- 
tion for submarine planning or building. Hope 
springs eternal in the breast of an inventor, and I 
said to myself: "At last the chance has come." 

Then I reflected that when the bids were opened 
the first time I had not managed my affairs with any 
skill. No one knew me, and every one knew Messrs. 


Holland and Baker, who had been active through 
their friends in getting the primary appropriation of 
$200,000 through Congress. I had walked into the 
office of the Secretary of the Navy, a greenhorn, with 
a roll of papers in my hand, and I had received pre- 
cisely the consideration I might have expected. 

"This time/' I said to myself, "I'll do as the others 
do. I will make myself known." 

I asked Governor Leon Abbot of New Jersey, who 
knew the Lake family and me, very well indeed, for 
a letter of introduction to the gentleman who was 
then Acting Secretary of the Navy. Armed with this 
letter, my roll of plans, and with every morsel of 
fact which had to do with submarines ready under my 
tongue, I visited Washington again. Perhaps I had 
not thoroughly learned my lesson as to the proper 
method of procedure in dealing with politicians. 
Maybe some signaling and semaphoring should have 
gone before. At all events I walked into the office of 
the Acting Secretary and handed Governor Abbot's 
letter to a smiling colored man. 

"The Secretary will see you in a few minutes," he 
reported. "Won't you sit down?" 

There were others in the anteroom. We sat on 
the hard chairs the Government provides for the use 
of suppliants waiting on dignity, twiddled our fin- 
gers, eyed each other anxiously, and now and then ex- 
changed remarks in whispers. Hours passed. At last, 
the Acting Secretary, dressed in his little brief author- 
ity, appeared in the doorway. 

'Tin sorry to keep you waiting/* he said to the 


assemblage, "but I'm going to lunch. I'll see you at 
half-past two o'clock." 

At half-past two o'clock he reappeared and walked 
quickly around the room, shaking hands with all and 
exchanging words with a few. When he came to me I 
said: "I am Simon Lake. I sent in to you a letter o 
introduction from Governor Leon Abbot, of New 

"Yes, yes/' said the Acting Secretary brightly. "Gov- 
ernor Abbot is a good friend of mine. I shall be glad 
to talk with you a little later, but just now you 
must excuse me in a few minutes I will send for 

At four o'clock he reappeared in the doorway and 

"I am sorry, gentlemen, but I will not be able to 
see any of you to-day, for I must sign my mail," 

I did not know then that there is usually more than 
one door to a politician's office in Washington, and 
that the callers he wishes to see rarely run the gaunt- 
let of public appearance in the anteroom. At nine 
o'clock the following morning I was on hand again. 
The same colored man met me with the same bright, 
kindly smile. The colored messengers in Washington 
are at least able to wear the appearance of sincerity 
and kindness. I told him that I was still waiting for 
the interview the Acting Secretary had promised me, 
and that I had sent a letter from the Governor of 
New Jersey to that official. The colored man returned 
from a visit to the inner temple. 

"He'll see you in just a few minutes, sir." 


At noon the Acting Secretary again appeared in 
the door to make the announcement of the day be- 

"I am going to lunch. I will return at half -past 

By this time my blood was beginning to circulate 
pretty fast. Every one who had been in the anteroom 
when I first arrived had either had his interview or 
had been passed on in some other way. A new crowd 
was on hand. I could imagine that some of them 
were grinning behind their hands at the way I had 
been treated for I saw that I was getting what the 
young folks of to-day call "the run-around." I fol- 
lowed the Acting Secretary into the hall and he no- 
ticed, perhaps, that the storm signals were flying. 
He put his hand on my shoulder. 

"I am sorry to have kept you waiting this way,*' 
he said, "but as soon as I get back from lunch I will 
take up your matter." 

This time his word was kept. He took up my mat- 
ter, but unfortunately for me he dropped it again. 
He heard the few words I had to say and then sent 
for one of the colored messengers. 

"Take Mr. Lake in to see Captain Sampson," he or- 
dered. "Tell him that Mr. Lake has come to me with 
a letter from the Governor of my state, and that he 
has something of great importance to say about sub- 
marines. Tell Captain Sampson to listen to what he 
has to say and then report to me. I am greatly inter- 

I was elated as I marched down the long corridor 


in the wake of the colored man. But it must be that 
the Acting Secretary failed to give the Negro the right 
signal, for instead of taking me in to see the future 
Admiral Sampson he turned me over to another mes- 
senger and did not repeat the message the Acting Sec- 
retary had given him. After a time the second mes- 
senger came back from a visit to Sampson's office. 

"The Captain will see you now/' 

First I was taken before Sampson's clerk and put 
through an examination. Perhaps I did not impress 
him, for there were no evidences of interest in Samp- 
son's attitude when I was finally ushered in to his 
private office. I began to tell him of my boat and its 
possibilities. He deliberately turned his back to me, 
put his feet on a chair, looked out of the window, 
and in the most bored tones conceivable, said, "Oh 
all right. Go ahead. But make it short." 

By this time I had lost my enthusiasm, I had been 
treated to one cold douche after another and was 
fairly tongue-tied. After I had made the least con- 
vincing statement in the world to Sampson's chilly 
back I picked up my hat, walked out of the room, 
and vowed that I would never return until I was sent 
for. And I never did. In the end the Navy Depart- 
ment wanted me very badly indeed and asked me to 
help it out of a hole. 

I returned to Baltimore about as angry as a red- 
headed man can be. It was evident that I had been 
deliberately insulted, and I could not understand 
why. It seemed to me that any citizen should at least 
be received with courtesy by the officials of our Gov- 


eminent. Years later I had some legal business in New 
York, and as the former Acting Secretary had opened 
a law office there I called on him and asked him to 
undertake it. 

"Yes, I am free now. I can take care of it for 

"I met you once before," I remarked, "when you 
were Acting Secretary of the Navy." 

He looked at me queerly and said, "I remember 
your visit very well indeed. You must have thought 
I gave you very cavalier treatment." 

"I did think so." 

"There's an explanation," said the former Acting 
Secretary. "Before I accepted the post of Assistant 
Secretary of the Navy I was Acting Secretary when 
we met, you know I had been the attorney for a 
company which proposed to build submarine boats. 
I knew they had spent large sums of money and that 
their officers were quite confident that their boats 
would be successful. I gave up that connection before 
I went to the Navy Department, of course, but it is 
probable that my knowledge of their affairs and my 
former association with them led me to give you less 
consideration than you were entitled to." 

I went to New York in 1894. I had a few hundred 
dollars, complete faith in my plans for the construc- 
tion of a submarine to be used for commercial pur- 
poses, no acquaintances at all, and not the glimmer- 
ing of an idea of the manner in which money is 
raised for new ventures. My brother-in-law, C. E. 
Adams, took me to live with his family at Bayonne 


and I rented a small office in the old Cheseborough 
Building at 24 State Street. 'Gene Adams was then 
assistant cashier at Pier One in the North River. 
Ultimately he gave up his job to come with me and 
has been my close and valued associate for over thirty 

The passage of time has taken the sting out of my 
experiences in New York and now they are actually 
funny to me. At the moment they were heart- 
breaking. I wanted desperately to prove that ' my 
hoped-for submarine would be all that I claimed for 
it, but I was not a salesman, and after my experience 
with the Lake Canning Machine Company I was 
chary of getting into the power of other men. I put 
an advertisement in the papers without result. Then 
I started on what was to be a door-to-door canvass 
of the financial district of New York City. 


A Submarine Built of Pitch Pine 

IT may be that the simplicity of my plans for a 
submarine their absolute lucidity frightened 
off the moneyed men I approached. If I had been 
wiser in the ways of the world I might have mixed 
a little mumbo-jumbo with my logarithms. As I re- 
member my Bible, Aaron was just ordinary folks 
until he turned his walking stick into a snake. Then 
he took his proper place as a magician on the big 

It was my air-lock that frightened people. 

Later I proved the practicability of niy device in 
practice, but at the time I had only blue-prints to 
offer. But, after all, certain of the more ordinary 
principles of physics are known to every one. It is a 
school-boy experiment to up-end a glass in a bucket 
of water and demonstrate that the compressed air 
will -only permit the water to enter to a certain 
height. My air-lock merely carried this a little far- 
ther. A door opened from the main body of the boat 
into a small room, which the prospective stroller- 
under-the-sea entered. This in turn had an entrance 
into a sea-lock. Then the air-pressure in the air-lock 
was raised until it equaled the pressure of the water 
outside, the communicating door between the air- 



lock and the sea-lock was opened, the diver stepped 
into the outer compartment, and a door was opened 
in the bottom the floor of the submarine. The 
pressure of the air kept out the water. The persons 
inside could look down to the bottom and, if the 
depth permitted, step out on it. In an ordinary div- 
ing dress the diver could walk into the water, do 
whatever he wished to do, and reenter the boat with 
no more difficulty than he would have in walking into 
a bam. But the story somehow seemed like black 
magic to those I approached. 

Nerves were jumpy in those days, anyhow. Russell 
Sage had very recently escaped death from a bomb 
in the hands of an insane man. The newspapers were 
filled with lurid stories. Cuba was struggling to free 
herself from the rule of Spain, the European govern- 
ments were in their accustomed state of irritation, 
Russia and Japan were beginning to make faces at 
each other, the Wall Street market was uncertain, and 
men who had money were putting in their whole 
time watching it. The set-up was difficult for the 
unknown young fellow named Simon Lake. Time 
after time my interviews ended in a runaway. The 
routine ran about as follows: 

"Er what is it you wish to show me, Mr. Lake?'* 

I explained that I had invented a submarine which 
was more efficient than any other. 

"In it I can run around on the bottom of the sea 
as readily as though I were on dry land on a bicycle." 

The gentleman behind the desk would begin to 
wriggle uneasily at this point. I could see I have 


seen the thought come into the mind of my vis-a-vis: 
"This man may be mad. I must watch him." 

Then I would continue, partly in desperation and 
partly in enthusiasm, talking against time. I felt that 
if I did not get out what I had to say in double-quick 
time the interview would end. 

"It is possible to open a door in the submarine and 
walk out on the bottom of the sea. One could land 
on a sunken wreck and make a complete examina- 
tionsalvage cargo gather up valuables from the sea 

By this time the man behind the big desk was often 
in raptures of fear. He would press the concealed but- 
ton that summoned aid. A startled clerk would open 
the office door and peer in. The man of finance would 
offer me his hand. 

"So glad to have met you, Mr. Lake. But I am very- 
busy perhaps some other time." 

Relieved sighs followed my exits from offices all 
through the downtown part of New York. I began 
to understand at the end of six months that I had 
taken the bull by the wrong horn. Instead of walking 
in on a banker to tell a story that sounded incredible 
and somewhat insane, I should have bulwarked my- 
self with testimony that it was true and that my 
.plans were feasible. It occurred to me that Charles H. 
Haswell might be willing to examine my drawings 
and testify that they were based on sound principles. 
Haswell was something of a hero of mine. He was the 
author of Haswell's Pocket Book on which I had 
drawn for facts when I first began playing with the 


idea of building a submarine; he stood very high in 
the marine circles of New York City as a consulting 
engineer. I called on him at his office. 

"I would like to have you look at these plans" 

Mr. Haswell was very courteous. He listened to my 
statement with interest. Then he said, "I believe you 
are on the right track. I will be glad to examine your 
plans and if they satisfy me I will make a statement 
to that effect. But it will cost you fifteen hundred 

"Mr. Haswell," I said, "I'm broke. I haven't fifteen 
dollars, not to speak of fifteen hundred. But I want 
your opinion. If you will look at my drawings I will 
pay you some time. I don't know when." 

As I recall it he laughed a little at this. It must 
have seemed a sample of pure impudence to him. But 
there is this to be said about men who are accustomed 
to deal in ideas. A new idea does not frighten them. 
Instead of running away they want to examine it. 
Haswell was curious about this new thing that I of- 
fered him, and he agreed without much persuasion 
to take his fifteen-hundred-dollar fee in stock of the 
company I proposed to form, if and when issued. 
After a thorough investigation he gave me an excel- 
lent indorsement, but even that did not interest the 
moneyed men to whom I applied. Their attitude was: 
"It is impossible to ride around the bottom of the 
sea in a wheeled vehicle. Any one knows that. A man 
who proposes to walk out of the door of a submerged 
boat upon the bottom of the sea must be mad. That 
is perfectly evident. Therefore, go away, Mr. Lake." 


My money was gone. I could no longer pay rent, 
and there seemed to be no reason why I should con- 
tinue in New York. I have seen so many ragged in- 
ventors haunting the doors of possible backers since 
then that I am heartily grateful I carne to the de- 
cision to go away from the city and build my boat. 
At the moment I did not know how this was to be 
done. I hardly had money enough to pay my fare to 
Atlantic Highlands, where I planned to build my 
boat, no money at all for boat-building, and nothing 
to go on for ordinary expenses. The profits from my 
little business in Baltimore which my father managed 
for me barely sufficed to keep my family going. I do 
not remember that I worried at all about the mone- 
tary obstacles in my way. I was too set on doing what 
I wanted to do. At Atlantic Highlands, I drew the 
plans for the boat I had determined to call the 
Argonaut Junior. The full-sized submarine for which 
I had drawn plans had already been christened the 
Argonaut in my mind, but this new boat was to be 
a very little one and therefore rated as Junior. My 
aunt and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Somers T. 
Champion, who lived at Atlantic Highlands, listened 
to my story with interest, and agreed to put a little 
money into my scheme. Perhaps my adventures 
among the New York bankers aroused their sym- 
pathy. At any rate they advanced the funds needed 
for the purchase of raw materials, and I built the 
Argonaut Junior with my own hands, assisted by my 
cousin, Bart Champion. 

The boat was a tiny affair, perhaps fourteen feet 


long, roughly in the shape of a flat-iron mounted on 
wheels, flat-sided and flat-bottomed. She had a double 
skin of yellow pine, with canvas between the skins, 
and was well calked and payed. A propeller was oper- 
ated by a man-power crank, pur compressed-air res- 
ervoir was a tank from a bankrupt soda-fountain, and 
the pump for compressing air had begun life as a 
plumber's hand-pump. With it we were able to com- 
press air to a pressure of about one hundred pounds 
to the square inch, which was all we dared put on 
the old tank. 

My diving suit really should have been preserved 
in a museum if only as an example of what can be 
done when one has to do it. I hammered iron into 
the form of an open helmet, into the front of which 
I fastened a dead-light, from an old yacht, and cov- 
ered the whole except for the dead-light with 
painted canvas as far down as my chest. In order to 
overcome the positive buoyancy of the body I tied 
sash-weights to my legs, and hoped that this would 
permit me to walk around on the bottom. No circus 
clown ever looked any funnier. Bart Champion 
laughed himself into stitches when I tried the suit on. 

"Let's go, Bart," I said one day. "We're ready." 

"Here's to the bottom of the sea," said he. 

We wheeled the Argonaut Junior to the water's 
edge and launched her very informally. No one broke 
anything over her bow. Her pine sides were so frail 
that a hearty swing with a bottle might have cracked 
them, anyhow, and I knew that with her construction 
of flat surfaces she could stand little pressure. But I 


This little boat, built of pitch pine, was the first submarine ever 

built that navigated successfully over the sea bottom and from 

which objects could be recovered through an open door. 


The 8-49, of the United States Navy, demonstrates the vast strides 
made in the development of the submarine since the Argonaut Junior. 


did not propose to strain her. We got her into the 
Shrewsbury River and paddled along the surface 
until we got to Blackfish Hole, where there was a 
depth of about sixteen feet. If we got to the bottom 
an eventuality which every one who saw her assured 
us was inevitable we planned to run on the wooden 
wheels which were mounted on axles outside the 
frame. Two were driving wheels, with a chain drive 
connected to a crank inside the boat. The third wheel 
at the stern was for support and steering. 

"Open the valve, Bart," I ordered, when we got 
into the deeper water. 

"Down she goes." 

She sank beautifully. But when she got fully under, 
a half-inch stream of water spurted in through a bolt- 
hole we had forgotten to plug. It hit Bart in the back 
of the neck as he stood at a control. 

"Ow," he yelled. "Let's get out." 

He plunged toward the little six-inch glass-covered 
porthole in the forward end of the boat, which had 
been put in to admit light into her otherwise dark 

"Where are you going?" 

"Well," he said sheepishly, "I intended to -go out 
of that porthole, but it doesn't seem likely that I 

We plugged the bolt-hole with a piece of pine and 
kept on going. Then we made our first underwater 
run. The Argonaut Junior ran across the river and 
"backed" to her place at the pier with no fuss at all. 
Her water-ballasted weight held her to the bottom so 


firmly that my calculations were all borne out not 
that I ever had the slightest fear that they would not 
be. Nor did I have any nervousness when I closed the 
hatch for that first trial run in a home-made sub- 
marine built of yellow pine. In fact I do not remem- 
ber that I have ever felt any fear when I was in charge 
of a boat. I have only been nervous when some one 
else is taking her down. 

Perhaps it is exhilaration that drives out fear. Once 
I was caught in a storm in a little schooner we called 
the Mariquita. Eventually it blew up so hard that I 
had to go out on the bowsprit to tie down her jib. I 
went under head and ears whenever she plunged, and 
yelled like a fool when my head came above water. I 
never had a better time. Another reason, perhaps, for 
my total lack of fear when I am in command of a 
submarine is my conviction that the only dangers to 
be feared are the twins of carelessness and reckless- 
ness. If everything has been seen to in advance, and 
no one makes a fool of himself, or forgets, a subma- 
rine is the safest kind of a boat to be in. 

Bart and I had a lot of fun with the little Argonaut 
for a time. We ran around on the bottom of New 
York Bay and picked up clams and oysters and even 
speared fish through our doorway into the water. 
Perhaps the best fun I had at this time, however, was 
with my Uncle James Lake. He was the head of the 
Atlantic Highland Association, a minister of the Gos- 
pel, and a man of dignity and standing; he resented 
not only the fact that his nephew should be a crazy 
inventor, but that, if he had to go crazy and invent, 


he should do it in Uncle James's parish. Many a time 
I have seen him deliberately cross the street to avoid 
meeting me. Uncle James might have carried the day 
against me in Atlantic Highlands, except for the fact 
that I had Uncle Somers Champion on my side. He 
was one of the leading men of the community, a 
notable veteran of the Civil War, a prominent busi- 
ness man of the little city, and warden of our church. 
A man upon whom Uncle Somers Champion cast 
the light of his countenance was entitled to the bene- 
fit of Atlantic Highlands' doubts. 

"I think we will have to build a bigger boat," I 
said to Bart Champion one day. "People look on this 
as a toy. They think we are just running around hav- 
ing fun." 

Uncle Somers agreed to this, and offered an amend- 

"Before you try to build a bigger boat," he said, 
"show the people what you can do with this little 

We arranged a public demonstration and the 
mayor of the town and the president of the bank and 
all the other people of prominence accepted invita- 
tions to attend. We did our little tricks with the 
Argonaut,, but some of the doubters seemed to feel 
that they were indeed tricks. They regarded skepti- 
cally the clam shells and old tin cans we brought up 
from the bottom. Uncle Somers suggested a test. 

"We will all write our names on a shingle," he 
said to the mayor and the dignitaries, "and tie a 
sash-weight to it and throw it into the water. Then 


Simon can go and prowl around the bottom and try 
to find it. If he succeeds well have to admit that his 
boat is all he says it is." 

So the leaders of thought in Atlantic Highlands 
did so. A sash-weight was tied to the shingle by a 
fairly long string, it was thrown into sixteen feet of 
water, and, of course, sank to the bottom. Then Bart 
and I paddled the Argonaut away from the pier, 
closed the hatch, and submerged with as much im- 
pressiveness as we knew how to muster. In no time 
at all we had risen from the depths, I had thrown 
open the hatch, and waved the shingle triumphantly 
at the big men at the pier. No one could doubt that 
demonstration. I had proven that the Argonaut could 
do anything I had promised. 

I have never before told a little secret connected 
with that event. Before submerging I had provided 
myself with a rather long hook, and when the Argo- 
naut went under water all I had to do was to wave 
that hook around until it caught the string. It was a 
sound demonstration, of course, but the hook saved 
a little time and made it a bit more spectacular. 


World's First Successful Submarine 

MY little Argonaut was the first submarine that 
had really performed. Other boats had sub- 
merged and had been driven for a little time under 
water, but the Argonaut Junior did everything I 
asked it to do. It crawled obediently around the bot- 
tom, it permitted us to stay under for as long a time 
as the air in the main compartment was breathable, 
and we could step out through the water-gate on the 
bottom of the sea. 

But the public did not realize that the little boat 
was the forerunner of the fleets of submarines which 
are now to be found in every ocean. I think most 
seamen looked on it as a water clown, for it certainly 
did not look like anything on the earth or in the 
waters under the earth. They admitted that it did 
certain things never done previously, but their atti- 
tude was, "What of it?" 

The newspapers of the day gave it plenty of space. 
Some of them carried full-page stories of the "strange 
thing which came up the North Shrewsbury and now 
lies high and dry on Barley Point," as the New York 
Herald told the tale on January 8, 1895. But for the 
most part the reporters seemed to hover between 
amusement and skepticism. One man wrote an article 



in the Philadelphia Press of May 10, 1896, which 
annoyed me intermittently for years. He was, it 
seemed to me, sardonically enthusiastic over the pos- 
sibilities of the Argonaut. He foretold that I "would 
wander along the bottom of the ocean and pick up 
the treasures that have accumulated there since the 
world began." Croesus, Barney Barnato, the Roths- 
childs, and all the other rich men whose names the 
reporter could remember were to be paupers by 
comparison with Simon Lake. "The owners will in a 
short time be rich enough to purchase a generous 
slice of the earth." 

I would have had something to say to the young 
man who wrote this if I had seen him at the time, 
for I thought it a most unfair use of the weapon of 
ridicule. Years later I was his guest at a dinner of 
newspaper men in Washington, and when I was called 
on to speak the almost forgotten resentment boiled 
up in me. To my surprise he said that he had been 
wholly in earnest when he wrote the article. 

"I still believe that what I wrote then was the 
truth," he said. "If you had stuck to your original 
purpose and hunted for sunken treasure instead of 
building military submarines for governments, you 
might to-day be one of the richest men in the 

My position was weakened, so far as the informed 
public was concerned, by the fact that the Navy 
Department had given a contract to the Holland 
Boat Company, after making a presumably impartial 
examination of my plans. The obvious conclusion 


was that my offering had been weighed and found 
wanting. For all that, a few friends were convinced, 
either by the boat's performance or by my flaming 
sincerity. My uncle by marriage, Somers Champion, 
was the well-intentioned agent through whom my 
greatest disappointment was brought about in the 
summer of 1896. He knew Nathan Straus very well, 
and told that gentleman of the performance of my 
little monster. 

"I will come down to the dock and see what your 
nephew can do/' said Mr. Straus. 

I have every reason to believe that when he came 
to the dock at Atlantic Highlands he was in the 
humor to back me in my venture. He did things like 
that. No one will ever know how many youngsters 
Nathan Straus put on the road to success, and I felt 
that fortune was within my grasp when Mr. Cham- 
pion told me what had been arranged. I tied the 
Argonaut Junior alongside the dock, in order that 
Mr. Straus could make a thorough examination be- 
fore I began my demonstration. Then the bad luck 

It was, I think, the hottest day I have ever known 
in New Jersey. There was not an inch of shade on 
the dock, of course, and Mr. Straus was accompanied 
by his wife. They were inseparable companions, as 
every one will remember. They looked into every- 
thing, listened with interest to my story, nodded their 
heads in comprehension when I explained how and 
why the Argonaut was able to make progress under 


water, and while they suffered from the furious heat, 
as I did, they showed no signs of discouragement. 

"Now," I said grandly, "I will submerge the 

Bart Champion and I lowered ourselves through 
the hatch and I drew the cover tight. That yellow- 
pine and canvas interior was hot enough to melt 
iron. As I made my final preparations the Sandy 
Hook steamer Monmouth charged down the river 
with her load of gasping people hungry for sea air. 
Either she was running a little faster than usual, or 
else her bow wave struck some contrary current. The 
little Argonaut was thrown up against the dock and 
something went wrong with her submerging mecha- 
nism. Bart and I toiled inside that pine-board furnace 
until we had to give it up. 

"Sorry," I said to the Strauses, "but something hap- 

I went overboard in ray crude diving gear and 
tried to fix the trouble. The wire rope had jumped 
off the gear which made the wheels go round, and 
nothing I could do helped matters. The Strauses sat 
there on that blazing dock for hours until they could 
literally stand the heat no longer. I saw Mrs. Straus's 
face begin to turn pale and at last they reluctantly 
gave it up and went back home. They never came 
back. I have always felt that if that infernal gear 
had not slipped when the swell hit the Argonaut, I 
might have been saved years of trouble and worry, 
The life of an inventor is full of trouble and worry, 
among a lot more desirable things. 


After the Straus episode I stopped looking for 
men who could put in a great deal of money and 
began hunting for neighbors who could put in just 
a little, but who really believed in me and my sub- 
marine. I formed a company and began to issue stock 
in small amounts; it was during this period that I 
met a man whom I shall call Brown. He was a 
man of magnificent personality. He wore spats and 
a gold cable-chain that would have held a schooner, 
and had a large smooth face and an expanse of vest 
which made disbelief impossible. But he was more 
than a mere windbag. 

Brown was a really brilliant engineer. He had a 
record of performance behind him and he dealt with 
big men and in large sums; when he said "Jack" 
Astor was his best friend the statement seemed per- 
fectly credible. The last time I saw him was during 
the World War. In spite of the fact that twenty-odd 
years before we had parted on the worst possible 
terms, he called on me at my laboratory in Bridge- 
port, glowing with health and optimism. He was 
then engaged in promoting something or other which 
was to make millions. 

"I am the man who devised the first plans for the 
fleet convoys which have made it possible to get sup- 
plies to England in comparative safety," he said. "A 
dickens of a time I had in persuading those old ad- 
mirals in the Navy Department! But I made them 
listen to me/' 

Maybe he had done just that, too. He was then 
more than eighty years old, but he was a man of the 


most engaging and forceful personality. I cannot too 
much stress the fact that he was a great engineer. But 
his character had a flaw in it, for after doing really 
worth-while things he became a "promoter." I was 
completely taken in by him at the outset. I might 
well have been ruined, and perhaps disgraced, except 
for one thing. 

Brown's false teeth saved me. 

I had stirred up a great deal o talk at Red Bank 
and along the Jersey coast with my little yellow pine 
Argonaut Junior, and people were beginning to show 
some sincerity when they talked of subscribing to 
stock in my company. One day Uncle Somers took 
me to a man whom he had known a long time, the 
cashier of a bank in a near-by town. It did not occur 
to me to doubt him. 

"Simon," he said, "if you can convince me that 
your boat has commercial possibilities I'll put in five 
hundred dollars of my own money. What's more, if I 
think you have a really good thing I will interest 
another man, who is one of the financial swells. He 
knows the big bankers Jack Astor and all of them 
and if he likes your boat I will invest an additional 
twenty-five hundred dollars." 

I was so excited over this prospect I could hardly 
sleep that night. The very next evening the "financial 
swell" appeared at the dock, and from the moment I 
saw him I was putty in his hands. He drove up to 
the bank in a beautiful open barouche in which a 
black coachman held the reins over a team of mag- 
nificent bay horses, and although that outfit waited 


for him for hours while he talked with me in the 
president's room at the bank, the coachman looked as 
much like an image at the end as he had at the be- 
ginning. I had had little experience with the great 
men of the earth, and this imposing being swept me 
off my feet. 

"Mr. Lake," he said, in accents of power that even 
yet sound in my ears, "you have the greatest thing 
I have ever seen. I am an engineer myself and can 
appreciate what you have done. Your boat is the 
marvel of the century. But if we are to be friends I 
must be frank, my dear fellow. You have the most 
absurd financial set-up I have ever seen. You will . 
never get anywhere with it." 

I do not remember just what I said. I know that 
I did not know anything about so-called Big Busi- 
ness. The Lakes have always managed their affairs 
more or less on the tea-cup-on-the-mantel plan. If 
there was money in the tea-cup we bought what we 
wanted. If there was none we did without. 

"If you will let me handle this affair of yours," 
said the mighty Brown, "I will put it on its feet. 
I can interest Jack Astor and a dozen of the biggest 
men on Wall Street. The very first thing we will 
issue stock at one hundred dollars a share," 

Of course I said yes. I thought I was unbelievably 
lucky to have interested such a man. 

He lived in a huge stone house, and when I dined 
there with him he had several servants, and the table 
was covered with rich dishes and fine wines. He knew 
how to preserve domestic discipline, too, and was as 


well served as any man could have been. In those days 
my meal often consisted of a sandwich and a bottle of 
coffee, and the service was confined to a wipe of my 
tarry hands on the legs of my overalls. It is not to be 
wondered at that I believed every word Brown said. 
He showed me two huge folios filled with testimony 
that had been taken in a patent case. 

"They wouldn't be fair to me," he said, speaking 
of his former partners. "It cost them two hundred 
thousand dollars before they got through, but it 
didn't cost me a cent." 

I went back to Baltimore to see what I could do 
about building the Argonaut First. We had had 
stock-books printed and had issued a call for 25 per 
cent of the stock issue we had sold. Out of this we 
realized about twenty-five hundred dollars, which was 
deposited in a bank subject to the usual safeguards. 
The head of the company which was building Hol- 
land's Plunger became the treasurer of our little cor- 

"I'll go in with you if my engineers like your 
plans," he had told me. 

Evidently they liked the plans for the Argonaut 
more than they did those of the Plunger for this 
gentleman took stock. He not only paid for his stock 
when the calls were made, but he let me build on a 
pay-as-you-can plan. When we got a little money we 
would do a little work. When the treasury was empty 
work stopped. 

No moneys were paid out except on checks coun- 
tersigned by both the treasurer and myself. One day 


Brown said to me, "I have an important matter for 
you to attend to, Simon. I want you to go to Balti- 
more and get your treasurer to sign up some checks 
and certificates in blank. That will enable me to meet 
the bills as they come in, without the present annoy- 
ing delay in forwarding checks to him for signature. 
Jack Astor and some of his friends are ready to sub- 
scribe to stock, but they do not want their own names 
on the stock-books just yet. You know how these big 
fellows operate, Simon. The stock will be issued in 
the names of their clerks. That is customary.*' 

At first I said I could not do what he wished, but 
in the end I consented to put the matter before 
the treasurer. Not the remotest shadow of a doubt 
about Brown had entered my mind up to this time. 
When I saw the treasurer in Baltimore, he said: 

"This is an unsound request, Simon. I don't like 
it. I would not assent to it except that I believe you 
are an honest man. But remember that I am putting 
my business honor in your hands. Don't sign any- 
thing unless you are certain the deal is an honest 

"I promise." 

Brown was a great braggart. He boasted con- 
tinually of what he had done and the things he 
owned and his personal strength. He especially liked 
to clash his jaws together, 

"Did you ever sfee such strong teeth?" he would 
ask. "Not another man of my age has teeth like 

He would snap his jaws until the teeth rang like 


ivory. It never occurred to me to doubt that they 
were genuine until the day I returned from Balti- 
more with the checks and stock certificates signed 
in blank by the treasurer. Brown met me glowering. 
Two of the false teeth had been broken out in front 
and the fact that he was wearing store molars instead 
of the home-grown variety became glaringly evident. 
He was in a furious temper and stormed through the 
mahogany-filled offices of his own company in a 
corner of which the Lake Submarine Company had 
its meek existence. 

"I'm selling half of my property/' he fairly shouted 
at me. "I'm reserving the house, but I have no need 
for more than half of that huge lot. It's damned good, 
spot-cash deal. I'm tickled to make it." 

He looked as though he dared me to disagree with 
him. I did not, of course. On the contrary I thought 
he was doing very well indeed in getting rid of 
property he did not need, which was only dead-weight 
on his hands. I knew that he had been somewhat 
pressed for money, for some of the stockholders in 
his company had invaded the office and had quarreled 
angrily with him. At times he had locked them out in 
the hall and refused to go to the door. One man had 
gotten a step-ladder and thrust his head through the 

"Let me in," he had yelled. 

But Brown had not let any one in. His expla- 
nation had satisfied me, especially as I was spending 
most of my time in Baltimore, and did not know 
all that was going on. He said that he was resorting 


to a technicality to protect his interests and that all 
would be cleared up at the next stockholders* meet- 
ing. But the complaints had perhaps a subconscious 
influence. When he finished telling me of the sale of 
his property he had arranged he said: 

"I want you to do me a little favor, Simon. I'm in 
a jam over taxes and until I can pay them up this 
deal won't go through. I want you to lend me the 
twenty-five hundred dollars 'now in the company's 
treasury. I'll pay it back to-morrow." 

"I cannot do that." 

He went on as though he had not heard me. 
"While you're about it you can turn over to me those 
certificates your treasurer has signed in blank. I'll 
take them over to New York and dispose of them to 
Jack Astor and his friends." 

"I won't do it," I said. 

He yelled at me through the gap where his two 
front teeth had been: 

"By God," he shouted, "you will do it or I'll break 

That was not good Brown technic. He was not 
in the habit of losing his temper unless something 
was to be gained by it, and in threatening to break 
me he turned the current on through my red hair. 

"Damned if you will." 

"I'll build these boats myself," he bellowed, 
"I'll squeeze you out. I have patents myself I don't 
need you" 

"You're through. You'll get out of the company 
right now. I notify you that you are out" 


We yelled at each other, probably incoherently, 
for some time. We were both mad all the way 
through. Then an idea seemed to strike us simulta- 
neously. Two floors below our offices was the office 
of a patent attorney to whom Brown had introduced 
me. I had left certain plans with this man along with 
sketches to enable him to prepare drawings and spe- 
cification for additional patents I wanted to take out. 
When Brown and I had this break it occurred to both 
of us to find out which of us the attorney accepted as 
his client. 

The elevator happened to be standing at our cor- 
ridor level, the door open, and the operator probably 
gaping at the two angry men. I got to it first and 
ordered the man to start down. Brown raced for the 
stairway, but I beat him in the elevator. At the at- 
torney's door I elbowed him aside. 

"Who do you recognize as your clientme or 
Brown? About those plans I left with you?" 

The lawyer was perfectly calm. "Mr. Brown has 
been my client for some time on other matters, but of 
course you are my client in the matter of the plans 
and specifications." 

"All right. Brown and I are through. I do not 
want you to give him any further information or 
allow him to see any of the new plans." 

On my return home, however, I found that Brown 
had already taken a lot of plans to his office. Later 
he tried to make trouble through their possession. 
But it did him no good. We Jerseymen may be slow 
to wrath, but we are moderately swift in action. My 


uncle was a sort of Justice of the Peace some kind 
of law officer, I've forgotten what and we made 
Brown give up the plans the very next day. Later 
he took out some patents in an effort to force 
me to surrender, but they were of no value, because 
the Lake patents were all basic and covered every- 

Our treatment of Brown was quite summary. 
We first went to the bank cashier who had intro- 
duced him to me. It is not considered beneficial to a 
banker to be engaged in a scheme to injure a fellow- 
townsman. He wanted to know how he could settle 
with us. 

"Make Brown resign as vice-president and gen- 
eral manager, and turn over all his stock to the 
company, and get out. You know how to handle 
him. You can tell him what you will do if he refuses." 
Brown did all these things and, in addition, turned 
over all his patents to us. He made us no more 



Case-Hardening an Inventor 

IHE bank cashier who described me as "a simple 
country boy" had been cruelly accurate. I had 
been too trustful. It did not occur to me to doubt the 
word of any man who was not widely known to be a 
liar. My narrow escape from ruin in the Brown 
incident rubbed some of that juvenile fuzz off the 
peach of my nature. If I had yielded to him he would 
have wrecked the company, just as he had wrecked 
other companies, but what is far more important he 
would have destroyed my reputation for integrity. 

"You'll never do it again, Simon/' the treasurer of 
the company chuckled. "One way to housebreak a 
pup is with the end of a broom." 

Yet I had had rather hard sledding for years. My 
cold reception in Washington had taught me some- 
thing of practical politics, the money men in New 
York had aided me to understand the true nature of 
a dollar, and I should have been more case-hardened. 
Brown really transformed me. Spats, gold watch- 
chain, high linen collars, and familiarity with big 
names never again impressed me. The first evidence 
of this change was developed in Baltimore, when I 
won a fight for ten thousand dollars. If it had not 



been for Brown I am sure I would have been 

The Holland Boat Company was having its 
Plunger built at a Baltimore iron works in 1896 
which company was also building my Argonaut First 
at such times as the Lake Boat Company had money 
to pay for the work. The rivalry between the two 
companies was based not merely on business and 
professional but also on intensely personal considera- 
tions. The Holland people were able to say that the 
Navy Department had given them the contract, but 
on the other hand several of the practical ship- 
builders in the company which was building the 
Plunger had taken stock in the Lake enterprise. My 
first triumph came when the head of that company 
asked his engineers to examine my plans. 

"They like 'em, Simon," he said. "Well build 
your boat." 

He had taken some stock in the company, and 
more than once that fact saved us from embarrass- 
ment, for he was able to charge, against his account 
for stock, some part of the money due his com- 
pany for work done on the Argonaut. I had scaled 
down my original plans for the Argonaut until I 
was able to show blue-prints for a boat I thought I 
might be able to pay for. It was to be thirty-six feet, 
nine inches over all, propelled by a White and Mid- 
dleton gasoline-engine both on the surface and when 
submerged, and the supply of fresh air was to be 
drawn in through a hose running to a floating buoy. 

The land-going or bottom-goingwheels, on 


which she was to creep over the sea bottom, were 
of cast-iron and seven feet in diameter, and the 
ground steering-wheel in her nose was three feet 
tall. In general she followed the plan of the Argonaut 
Junior, with an air-lock compartment opening into 
the water-lock from which one could enter the water 
through an open door. A small conning-tower was 
provided in which the steersman sat when the boat 
was on the surface, and I planned for an iron keel 
that could be dropped if through any bad luck we 
were unable to rise to the surface after submerging. 
The one serious obstacle we encountered was the 
lack of an air-compressor. The best one we could find 
was not equal to the task. 

'Til design one," I said, "if you'll make it." 

Chief Engineer Peacock and Chief Constructor 
Mclnnis of the construction company laughed at that. 
I was not an engineer. I was only an inventor, and 
the practical man in a shop has a half-protective, 
half-contemptuous feeling for this brooding and im- 
practical creature. 

"Well stand you the best dinner to be had in 
Baltimore if you can draw plans for a compressor 
that will run." 

I got to work on the plans and after a time brought 
them in. Peacock and Mclnnis went over them. 

"The damned thing might work at that," they 

When it was completed we were able to get fifteen 
hundred pounds pressure, which was more than we 
really needed for the depths to which I planned to 


go. Nowadays, we use five thousand pounds pressure. 
Peacock and Mclnnis paid for a superb dinner some- 
where on Eutaw Street, and a Baltimore dinner in 
those days was something to be remembered almost 
with reverence. The city was famous for its good 
food, and half a dozen of the old chop-houses were 
known from coast to coast. I believe the city still has 
an excellent gastronomic fame, but then it ranked in 
the hearts of epicures along with New Orleans, and 
perhaps San Francisco. Shortly after the dinner Pea- 
cock came to me. 

"Any stock left, Simon?" 


"Mclnnis and I will be having twenty-five hun- 
dred dollars' worth each, if that suits you." 

Their money helped me over one of the humps 
the Lake company persistently met. Then I learned 
that a gentleman named Rothert was interested. He 
was one of the rich and well-regarded men of Balti- 
more. About the time I went to work on him the 
Holland people also heard of him as a prospect, and 
between us Rothert was bombarded daily. The Elec- 
tric Boat Company also entered the lists. Rothert 
finally put an end to the siege. 

"I may put some money in a submarine company/* 
he said. "I do not promise anything. But I propose 
to pick the best company for my money, and I cannot 
do that while you are all shouting in my ears. We'll 
have an open hearing, and may the best company 

It was here that Brown, super-promoter, un- 


doubtedly saved my bacon. That experience had 
taught me not to be impressed by words and music. 
Princes and potentates ranked along with mechanics 
after my hardening by Brown. It was a good thing, 
for the Holland Boat Company was represented by a 
fearsome array of counsel. There was a benchful of 
eminent lawyers, backed by two or three marine 
engineers, and the claims of the Plunger were pre- 
sented in highfalutin scientific terms. Their occa- 
sional references to me and my modest Argonaut 
were toned between pity and amusement. 

"Now let's hear from you, Mr. Lake/' said Rothert. 

I made my talk in non-technical language that any 
one could understand, and the lawyers and engineers 
grew restive. Presently they began to break in with 
the evident intention of confusing me. A few months 
earlier they might have succeeded, but I had been 
case-hardened. At last I said to Mr. Rothert: 

"These gentlemen say I am not an engineer. It is 
true that I have taken no degrees. 

"I did not go to college. 

"But I have invented a number of things and they 
all work. I have not heard that my friends of the 
other side have invented anything. My inventions 
are practical and in everyday use. I have not had the 
education these gentlemen have, but I have been 
in manufacturing operations and I think that is a 
fair offset for an university. 

"My Argonaut Junior has been under water and 
I have been in her. She was under perfect control. 
I do not think that any of these gentlemen have 


been under water in their boat. The Argonaut First, 
which I am now building, will perform as perfectly 
as its small predecessor, for it will obey the same 
natural laws. 

"I think that as a practical man, who knows what 
he is doing, I can speak with more authority than 
any one of the lawyers to whom we have been listen- 
ing. My friends the engineers have demonstrated to 
me that they do not know what they are talking 
about when they discuss submarine operations. They 
lack experience and knowledge/' 

Mr. Rothert laughed out loud. "These gentlemen 
have called you an amateur, Mr. Lake, but I can 
understand what you are talking about and they 
have left me confused. Here's my check for ten thou- 
sand dollars." 

That tickled me, of course. Throughout my life 
I have followed the same course. If I could not con- 
vince the other fellow by straight talk and practical 
demonstration I dropped him. I have never given a 
man so much as a cigar to influence him in my 

Both the Argonaut and the Plunger were launched 
in August, 1897. The Plunger had bad luck from 
the beginning, due to faulty design. When her en- 
gines were started as she laid alongside the dock she 
rolled over and, except for the fact that she rolled 
toward the dock and her conning-tower caught on 
the wooden structure, she must have sunk. To the 
best of my recollection she never did have a success- 
ful submersion. We gave the Argonaut a trial sub- 


mersion alongside the dock and she worked perfectly. 
Peacock and Mclnnis carried on a half-serious, half- 
farcical quarrel over this initial trial. 

'Til be going down in her," said Peacock. "Simon 
will be wanting me along to tell him what to do." 
He would wink at me here. 

Mclnnis would come back at him: "You will not. 
You are a married man and have no right to throw 
your life away. The damned thing might never come 
up. I'll go down in her and you'll watch me from the 

"No," Peacock would say. "It's better that I go 
down, because a chief constructor can be found any- 
where, but if you were lost where would the com- 
pany get another designer?" 

In the end they both went down with me, which 
they had had in mind doing from the beginning. 

The first open-water run of the Argonaut was in 
the Baltimore Harbor toward the mouth of the Pa- 
tapsco. This was the first successful run of a full-sized 
submarine in the United States, to the best of my 
knowledge. When we reached a stretch of water in 
which surface vessels would not bother us we dropped 
to the bottom and cruised about. After about two 
and a half hours I felt a distressing pain in my head 
and Alec Cochran, who was an athlete, was terribly 
sick. The air intake seemed to be working all right, 
but it was evident that something had gone wrong. 

"Well go up," I said to Peacock. "I don't know 
what's happened" 

"I feel all right," said he. 


I opened the hatch when we reached the surface 
and the moment the fresh air came in, the athlete 
Cochran dropped as though he had been shot. Pea- 
cock was the only one to escape a fearful nausea. 
None of us could figure out what the trouble might 
be. On the next day's run the same thing happened. 
Engineer Wilson's eyes were so bloodshot that they 
were frightening, and he wabbled as he walked. 

"We'll go up," I ordered. "This won't do. We're 
passing out on our feet." 

Once on the surface the hatch was opened and 
Wilson staggered toward the engine to shut it off, 
but he was so weak I was afraid he would fall on it 
and burn himself. 

"Get out on deck," I told him. "I'll shut it off." 

I pulled the switch and the engine backfired in 
the pit. That told me the story. The vessel was full 
of carbon monoxide and it is just the luck of the 
Lakes that we were not all killed. I managed to get 
out on deck before I fell, and I threw myself behind 
the conning-tower so that I could not be seen by any 
one in the little town of Spring Harbor. After a time 
I regained my senses and looked about. Peacock was 
standing over me. 

"Peacock" miserably conscious that my tongue 
was thick and my words twisted "I know whash 

"Simon, you're drunk." 

I have never been drunk on alcohol in my life, but 
I had all the sensations then of a bum filled to the 
eyes with waterfront "smoke." My head ached until 


it seemed I could not stand it and ever since then I 
have felt the same thing under conditions of strain 
or when the air is bad. Carbon monoxide is about as 
bad medicine as any that can be put in a box. I have 
seen seventeen men at one time unconscious from it. 
In some cases it has been necessary to pull out a 
sufferer's tongue and hold it out by running a sail- 
maker's needle through it. Otherwise it will drop 
back in his mouth and he will choke to death. 

When we got back to the dock I put in an inter- 
mediate tank which caught the backfire fumes. In 
subsequent tests I have run under water for ten 
hours at a time, powered by the gasoline-engine, and 
have never had the least bit of trouble. When I was 
sure I had gotten all the "bugs" out of the Argonaut 
First I decided to give a party and invite the press. 
I had learned something about the uses of publicity 
since my first artless days at Red Bank. It was not 
enough, I learned, to permit reporters to discover 
you. They insist on being shown. The principal 
papers of the eastern seaboard were asked to send 
reporters, and years later the Baltimore Sun's man 
showed me the slip of paper on which had been writ- 
ten his assignment for the day. "If Lake succeeds he's 
worth a column. If he fails he gets an obit." 

It may not have occurred to the news editor that 
if Lake failed another man would have to be detailed 
to write the obituary. For the reporter was going 
along with Lake. 


The Devil in the River 

NOWADAYS submarines are no more of an 
oddity than catboats. Even landlubbers do not 
get excited when they see one. Some of the fleet sub- 
marines are able to cover twenty-five thousand miles 
under their own power and keep the sea for an in- 
definite time. In spite of the angry denials of the 
advocates of the floating fortresses called battleships, 
the submarine is the only enemy these clumsy crea- 
tures need fear. It is possible that they might 
bombard each other without a conclusive result in a 
naval battle, for they have become mere honey- 
combed masses of hardened steel. But I do not be- 
lieve that one can be built to be impregnable to sub- 
marine attack. 

In one of the latest types of torpedoes the ex- 
plosive charge weighs five thousand pounds. It is 
possible for a submarine to be so built that its prog- 
gress under water is absolutely noiseless. The only 
safety for a battleship would* be in a defended har- 
bor, hunched behind booms and nets and a fringe 
of sunken mines. For the greater part of the World 
War the dreadnoughts were immured in such naval 
nunneries. Submarines can be munitioned nowadays 
from submerged bases, and neither the fighting craft 



nor the mother ships discovered except through sheer 
accident. If another world war were to break out it is 
my belief that Great Britain could only be pro- 
visioned by means of a fleet of cargo-carrying sub- 
marines, for merchant vessels would be mere mecha- 
nisms for mass suicide. 

These facts would be as true to-day if Simon Lake 
had never been born. Some other inventor must have 
come along to make submarines practicable instru- 
ments for war and peace, for progress can never be 
more than checked. Other men were at work at the 
same time on the same problems, notably in France, 
But I can truthfully assert that my little Argonaut 
First cleared the way. It was the first submersible to 
do everything it was asked to do, with safety and com- 
parative comfort for its crew. It was the legitimate 
forerunner of every one of the magnificent craft of 
to-day. Even more than that, small and weak as it 
was, it was in some respects in advance of the best 
of them. 

The boat created a tremendous sensation in Balti- 
more. I do not recall that scientists were greatly im- 
pressed, for their attitude generally was that what 
the Argonaut was doing could not be done. The 
Navy Department took no interest at all, which is 
not to be wondered at, inasmuch as it had backed the* 
Plunger. But the newspapers scented a sensation and 
reporters were at my heels all the time. I gave them 
little satisfaction at first, for there were bugs I wanted 


"But I'll take you for a ride under the water as 
soon as she's ready," I promised. 

One of the first things I had to do was to rebuild 
the gasoline tank. Nothing is more infernally pene- 
trative than gasoline fumes. No matter how carefully 
every opening has been sealed they will escape into 
the air, and if they are let into a closed room un- 
pleasant things may happen. At first the tank was 
inclosed in the hull of the boat, but as that was 
quickly seen to be impractical it was rebuilt on her 
outer skin. When we were all ready for the press 
demonstration I took her down the Patapsco River 
for a final test. At dusk I brought her up to the sur- 
face and went ashore to buy some food at a little 
country store. I found the proprietor and half a dozen 
countrymen yelling with laughter. 

"Jeff, he says he seen the devil/* they told me. 

"Who's Jeff? Where is he?" I had an idea that I 
knew the devil Jeff had seen. 

"He's run home, a-yellin* and a-prayin'. That man 
he's sure enough scairt." 

Jeff had been in a small schooner with another 
man when the Argonaut rose to the surface. They 
had stared at it, puzzled, but not particularly fright- 
ened, until the conning-tower hatch was opened, a 
faint glow came from the lamp that had been lighted 
inside, and I rose from the opening. Perhaps Jeff's 
past had not been altogether to his liking at that mo- 
ment, for he and his partner ran their schooner 
ashore, hastily squattered over her bowsprit, and fled 
up the country road. 


"Funniest thing I ever heard of," shouted the 
storekeeper. "Jeff's Sa 7* n ' the devil riz right out of 
the water." 

Then he turned to me. "Where'd you come from, 
Mister? And what do you want?" 

I bought whatever it was that I needed, but I did 
not tell him where I came from or. that my sub- 
marine was lying at anchor out in the river. Some 
people are mighty touchy, I have found, and there 
are good rifle shots to be found along the river bank. 
As soon as I could do so I drifted the Argonaut out 
of sight from the shore. I have often wondered 
whether Jeff turned toward a better life. 

On my first press excursion out of Baltimore we 
had twenty-two male guests and Miss Ada Patterson, 
who has since then made a high rating in journalism. 
The trip was tremendously successful. Two men, an- 
ticipating the need of a tonic, had brought along 
some champagne, and when no trouble developed 
they invited every one to drink the health of the 
Argonaut and its crew. Only one rusty old tin cup 
was to be found on board and we made a loving cup 
of it. One after another the guests were taken into 
the water-lock and the door opened so that they 
could dabble in the mud at the bottom of the river 
and rake up oyster shells and similar mementoes. 
The newspaper articles which resulted were marked 
by high enthusiasm, but they did not make a dint on 
the scientific and naval craniums. 

'Just newspaper sensations" seemed to be the atti- 


tude of laboratory and Navy. "Very regrettable and 
quite absurd." 

Perhaps most of the incredulity came from the 
published statement that the Argonaut First ran 
around on the floor of the bay under her own power 
and on her own wheels. No one denied the boat 
could be submerged. There were witnesses that it 
had been submerged. But it was more difficult for me 
to prove by my non-technical witnesses that the 
Argonaut actually ran about on the bottom and 
those who might have been technical witnesses would 
not give me a chance to prove it. They only cited 
reasons why the Argonaut could not do what it was 

Yet during the months of experimentation that 
followed I ran the Argonaut around on the bottom 
for hours at a time, without having the least bit of 
trouble. The water ballast could be held at a point 
which gave the boat negative buoyancy, which means, 
in other words, that she was just the least little bit 
too heavy to rise to the surface without aid. A little 
puff of air from the compressors would blow out 
water from the ballast tanks and she would float up 
like a cork. I have climbed forty-five-degree inclines 
with her and bumped merrily over boulders the size 
of street-cars. When we came to a hole I had only 
to change the angle of inclination of the hydroplanes 
the manageable fins which were mounted on either 
side. Up she would go. 

The secret was in these fins, or hydroplanes, as 


I preferred to call them. Other submarines then used 
horizontal rudders or similar devices, usually placed 
near the stern, to govern the boat's horizontal level, 
but the governing principle was to dive rather than 
to submerge. The Lake boats did not dive. They 
took sufficient water into the ballast tanks to permit 
submergence to the desired depth on a level keel and 
then maintained that level by the manipulation of 
the multiple planes. My plan of controlled sub- 
mergence is now in use on every submarine in the 

But our own Navy Department would not accept 
it until it had been adopted by the navies of Europe. 

I spent many happy hours that summer cruising 
along the bottom of Chesapeake Bay with the water- 
gate open, so that I might see what was going on at 
the bottom of the bay. Sometimes I speared fish 
through the open door, and often raked up the 
oysters for our evening dinner or set out trot-lines 
when the fishing promised to be good. If there were 
no fish to be seen there were no fish to be caught 
and the Argonaut moved on. At night the lights in 
the living compartment attracted fish by schools when 
we were submerged. During one ten hours' test one 
large fish kept his eyes glued to the dead-eye. If one 
of us moved toward the port he would dart away, 
but he never failed to come back. He had more in- 
terest in our submarine activities than many pro- 
fessors and admirals I knew at the time. I got some 
excellent pictures of fish looking into the window, 


which were published in McClure's Magazine in 
January, 1899, and were probably the first of their 

I do not know and I never will know why some 
men seem to be so obstinately antagonistic to any- 
thing which is new. I tooled around over the Chesa- 
peake Bay bottom all that summer, as though I were 
in a coach and four on Long Island roads, and no 
naval man would listen to my story. So far as I know 
no officer of any of the world's navies to-day believes 
in the obvious improvements possible in submarines. 
Officers laughed aloud at the thought of attaching 
wheels to the bottom of a submarine. 

"A nutty idea," they said. "Thoroughly imprac- 
tical." But the wheels made me a million dollars, 
more or less, and a million dollars are as practical as 
anything I know. It was years after my initial experi- 
ment in the Chesapeake Bay. I had been invited by 
the Russians to submit plans and specifications for 
submarines to be built in their own shops. So had 
other men. The Russians knew pretty well what they 
wanted, and in addition to other demands they sub- 
mitted one test that was plenty stiff. "To be accepted 
boats must be able to penetrate the military harbor 
of Libau without being detected." 

There is not a military submarine afloat to-day, in 
my belief, that could meet that condition. A three- 
mile-long and very tortuous channel had been cleared 
to connect the outer harbor and the inner military 
harbor, in which the ships of war were sheltered. 


The entrance to the outer harbor was eight miles 
long, and a channel had been dredged through it to 
the entrance to the canal. 

"You'll never see me/' I boasted to the Russian 
officers directing the test. 

"I will submerge in the outer harbor at eleven 
o'clock and at one o'clock I'll come to the surface 
in the inner harbor, alongside your biggest battle- 
ship, and you will not have seen anything of me at 
any time." 

The operators of the competing submarines ob- 
jected to this test. They knew they could not get into 
the inner harbor unseen, and they were right. Their 
boats leaped to the surface those which operated 
on the so-called "porpoising" plan and in any event 
their conning-towers could be seen when they rose to 
the surface to get a look at their whereabouts. My 
Protector-type boat this was long after the days of 
the A rgonaut submerged when I said it would and 
came to the surface alongside a battleship. I could 
have blasted the big ship out of the water. Years 
afterward Admiral Sims said to me: "If the Chinese 
had had one of your old submarines during the first 
Sino-Japanese War, no Japanese ship could ever have 
gotten into Shanghai Harbor." 

I got the Russian contract. Out of that contract 
other contracts grew. If I had not returned to the 
United States when the Navy Department officials 
finally called me I would have made a great deal 
more money. But I could not refuse my country. 


It was the wheels the wheels that were laughed at 
then and are probably laughed at now that did the 
trick in Libau. I only needed to submerge the boat, 
locate the dredged-out channel, and then nose along 
it. It is not possible to see the route ahead when 
a submarine is under water, but when I felt the 
Protector begin to climb the sides of the dredged-out 
channel I merely shifted helm and got back into the 
ditch. It was the easiest and the simplest game I have 
ever won. I had studied the canal in advance and 
knew where the turns were made, and when I hit a 
turn I merely pulled back and felt for the ditch 
again. It was like feeling your way along the walls 
of a strange house in the darkness of night. You 
move slowly, but if you know where you are trying 
to go you'll get there. 

I had been pretty well discouraged by my failure 
even to interest my friends in the Navy Department, 
and as I had done previously, when I built the little 
Argonaut Junior, I proposed to experiment in the 
commercial field. I was sure that valuable cargoes 
could be recovered from sunken wrecks and worked 
out several devices which were to prove useful. While 
I was fiddling with my Argonaut in the waters near 
Baltimore, the air filled with war possibilities. Cuba 
was trying to escape the Spanish rule, and the Ameri- 
can papers were filled with stories of the fighting on 
the island, along with frequently expressed fears that 
we might be drawn in. One day I received a message 
from a great New York City publisher. "Will you 


come to New York to discuss with me the possible 
sale of your Argonaut?" 

Of course I went, but in the city I did not meet 
the publisher. Instead I was taken in to one of his 
managers, and we talked over the possible sale of the 
Argonaut. I had come provided with blue-prints and 
specifications, and at last I made him see that if I 
could do what I said I could do, and do it every time, 
I had something the Navy Department had not seen 
and should see. 

"Will you go down town and have a talk with the 
men of the Cuban Junta?" he asked. 

"Why not?" 

I would consult with any one in those days. The 
more people I could interest, the better were my 
chances of getting the considerable financial backing 
I needed to make my submarine the success I knew 
it could be. The Junta then had quarters on Pine 
' Street, and its business was conducted, so far as I 
could see, like that of any other office. If there were 
spies and beautiful women and agents provocateurs 
I saw nothing of them. The spokesman for the Junta 
heard my story and looked at my exhibits. 

"Could the Argonaut go as far as Cuba?" 

"She could go around the world." 

"Will you contract to take her to Cuba and lay 
some mines in places we will point out?" 

"Not me." The Lakes are a cautious and not a bel- 
ligerent family. "We are not in this war. The United 
States is neutral. I do not propose to get myself into 
a dove hitch." 


"In that case and we understand your position- 
will you sell the boat?" 

I thought that over for a minute, then said, "Yes. 
I'll sell. I'm not supposed to know what you want to 
do with her. If you use her to plant mines that's your 


Cold Feet Cost Lake Three Million Dollars 

IT was right here that I lost three million dollars, 
if one can say that money is lost which one never 
had. The members of the Junta seemed to be thor- 
oughly sold on my Argonaut, although not one of 
them had seen it in action. They gathered in corners 
and held mysterious conversations which I presume 
had to do with the potential danger of the Argonaut 
to the Spanish ships of war. Now and then one of 
them would shake hands with me and pat me on the 
back and beam and say something in Spanish which 
was evidently nice. 

"You will, of course, demonstrate what you can 
do/' the Junta asked through the interpreter. 

"I ask nothing better/' 

Karl Decker was assigned, by the great publisher 
who employed him, to play the part of liaison officer 
between the Junta and myself. Decker's name at this 
time was probably better known to the American 
public than that of George Washington. He had had 
many daring adventures in Cuba as a correspondent 
attached to the rebel forces, and one of his exploits 
was the rescue of Evangeline Cisneros from Morro 
Castle. The papers were full of it; the beautiful 
Cuban girl was the heroine of the day and Decker 



was the man of the hour. It is perhaps possible that 
Miss Cisneros was not rescued from Morro Castle, 
but from a less impregnable stronghold, and that 
some good American money changed hands, and the 
young lady may not have been as lovely as she 
seemed to be on the first pages. These are merely 
cynical reflections. At all events Decker became a 
believer in the Argonaut. 

"I have arranged that the most important man in 
the rebel forces shall witness your demonstration," 
said Decker. He told me the name of this gentleman 
but I have forgotten it. He was either a general or 
an admiral I am sure of that and looked to me 
precisely like a Cuban patriot should look. He was 
tall, sinister, black-bearded, silent, slender. At all 
times he wore a black cloak draped about his shoul- 
ders. He could have gone on the stage and played 
the part of First Rebel without change. 

"If he is satisfied, you have sold a submarine," said 

I had learned some business sense from my en- 
counters with Brown and with business men. No 
price had been put on the boat by me and no offer 
had been made by the Junta. I thought it was time to 
get down to brass tacks. 

"What's your offer?" 

"The Junta has little money," Decker explained. 
"What funds it has been able to secure are earmarked 
for arms and ammunition. But the Junta is now cer- 
tain of victory. Cuban officers are victorious in the 


field and Spain is weakening. The bonds which are 
being issued by the Junta will soon be worth par." 

"What are they worth now?" 

It was a difficult question to answer, for as a mat- 
ter of fact they were worth nothing at the time. 
Those who bought them did so because they wished 
to help Cuba. They could not be resold for a dime. 
This was explained to me, although I knew that 
much already. Yet I was prepared to dicker, for it 
would be the sale of the first submarine ever made 
in the world for use. Submarines may have been sold 
by sheriffs or transferred to the unfortunates who had 
contracted to build them, or disposed of to navy de- 
partments because the sailormen wanted to see what 
they could do. But if I sold the Argonaut it was be- 
cause I was able to guarantee that she would deliver 
the goods promised. I asked again, "What's your 

"Three million dollars in gold bonds of the Re- 
public of Cuba. Worth nothing now, but certain to 
be worth par soon." 

"Sold," I said. 

The Argonaut was lying in the Patuxent, off the 
little town of Spring Gardens. Decker and the mys- 
terious admiral and I went to Baltimore by train and 
then boated down the river to the anchorage. I ex- 
plained everlastingly to Decker. He would listen, ask 
questions, nod his head enthusiastically, and interpret 
to the admiral. That saturnine person did not light 
up at all. He seemed to understand what Decker was 
talking about, but he asked no questions and made 


no comments. We got in the submarine and drove out 
to a safe ground for the demonstration. No surface 
vessels were in sight, and the depths of the water 
was sufficient. 

I closed the hatch and we submerged. 
The admiral began to seem less nonchalant. He 
glared at Decker and asked questions. Decker ex- 
plained. I had not the remotest idea what it was all 
about, for I was watching my engines and gages. 
"Now," I said, "we will go into the air-locks." 
The admiral was as jumpy as a frightened girl 
when he found himself cooped in this bare chamber 
with two men, one of whom was practically a com- 
plete stranger. I fear he had less than a soldierly con- 
fidence in Decker. I told Decker what I was about 
to do, he told the admiral, and I turned on the air. 
It hissed into the air-lock and the pressure began to 
rise. The admiral went completely mad. He leaped 
in the air and swore in Spanish I may not be a 
Spanish scholar but I know profanity in any language 
and deprecate it and, waving his arms, seized Decker 
by the shoulders and pulled him around. He pointed 
at me. 

"Assassin!" he screamed. 

Maybe it was not "assassin." I did not know the 
word, but the meaning was apparent. Decker tried 
to calm him and waved his arms and outyelled the 
admiral and shook his hands and talked sometimes 
low and sweet and sometimes blunt and dominating. 
The admiral began to screech like a parrot. 


"It's no use," said Decker. "He's lost his nerve 
completely. Well have to go up." 

So we went to the surface again and returned to 
the anchorage* The admiral went ashore with Decker 
and me. Just as he got his feet on the land a street- 
car crossed the long bridge over the river, and he 
ran for it like one possessed, his long black coat 
streaming out behind him. I never saw him again. 
The sale of the Argonaut was definitely off. Yet it 
was not many years before those gold bonds of the 
Republic of Cuba were selling in the open market at 
par. If the admiral had not gone batty I would have 
had three million nice golden dollars. It was a dis- 
appointment, but I took it philosophically. Already 
I had learned that an inventor's life is full of disap- 

I suspect that if one could get at the truth the 
mystery of the sinking of the Maine might be un- 
raveled, taking this incident of the Argonaut as a 
primary clue. In our fragmentary conversations at 
the headquarters of the Junta in New York we had 
discussed the possibility of laying mines in Havana 
Harbor. The Argonaut was not equipped with tor- 
pedo tubes, not only because torpedoes were not yet 
a thoroughly practical weapon, but because I had 
intended the boat for commercial use. But it would 
have been the easiest thing in the world to open her 
water-gate and place a mine just where it would do 
the most harm. 

"But how would it be exploded?" the Junta had 
asked me. 


It would have been easy enough to attach an ex- 
ternal trigger so that a mine would explode on con- 
tact. But war was perhaps not quite as ruthless as 
it became during the period beginning with 1914. 
Military men were not yet willing to risk the lives 
of innocent civilians on the chance of sinking an 
enemy ship, and so the preferred method was by 
shore control. Wires were laid from the mine to a 
control station. By the commonplace method of tri- 
angulation it would be possible to decide if and when 
an enemy ship were immediately over the mine. A 
pressure of the key and the trick would be turned. 

I think the Cubans planned to use the Argonaut 
in mining Havana Harbor, in order to sink the 
Spanish war-ships which were almost continuously 
resting there. They rarely anchored, for technical 
reasons, but instead were tied to buoys. Some of the 
buoys were set apart for the use of the Spanish ships 
of war, and others for commercial vessels and war- 
ships of other nations. It is at least possible that a 
mine had been towed out into the harbor by night 
and submerged alongside of one of the buoys ear- 
marked for the Spanish ships. 

By error or intention, the Maine was directed to 
tie up at this buoy. 

It is unlikely that any one will ever know whether 
our battleship was sacrificed by the Cubans in order 
to get us into the war, or whether the mine was ex- 
ploded by mistake under the American ship. At all 
events we were at war with Spain not long afterward. 

In the meantime I had been prowling around the 


bottom of the Patuxent in my Argonaut, discovering 
precisely what she could do. I had in mind that if I 
could find some laden wrecks money might be made 
by salvaging their cargoes. I found the wrecksplenty 
of them but none with cargoes that interested me. I 
remember that on one occasion I submerged along- 
side the hulk of a tug that had sunk in seven fathoms 
of water, after a fire. I put on my diving helmet and 
went out into the water to investigate. I had been 
trying out a search-light which had been fairly satis- 
factory in clear water at a distance up to forty feet, 
but I was not using it on this occasion. After I got 
to the bottom I found it difficult to stay there, for I 
continually floated toward the surface, and had to 
kick vigorously to get down again. To make things 
easier I worked toward the tug. 

"I'll just get hold of one of her ribs/' I said to 

I put out my hand and grabbed hold of a toadfish 
a horrid, slimy, disgusting toadfish. I shall never 
forget the nausea that almost overcame me, locked 
up as I was in the diving helmet, but I stuck it out 
for half an hour. Then I began to feel queer. Some- 
thing more than mere stomach-sickness was wrong 
with me, but I did not want to go up, for I did not 
want the boys to know that the old man couldn't take 
it. At last I could stand it no longer and up I went. 
When I took the helmet off some one cried: "What's 
the matter, Lake? You're swelled up like a toadfish." 

My head was swollen like a toy balloon and my 
eyes half closed. My reason told me that toadfishes 


are not poisonous, but I'll admit that I had rather a 
worried moment before I discovered what was wrong. 
In making my dive I had struck the air-valve and 
half closed it, so that I had been breathing carbonic- 
acid gas instead of the good clean air the boys 
thought they were pumping down to me. It was a 
small matter, but an intensely unpleasant one. To 
this day I think of it whenever I see one of the 
abominable toadfish in a catch at sea. 

The war with Spain was now in full blast, and I 
made another effort to get into my country's service. 
I had demonstrated to my satisfaction that I could 
lay mines or tear up cables without the least diffi- 
culty or interference, and it seemed to me that the 
Argonaut should be of real value to the United 
States. I wrote a letter to Theodore Roosevelt, then 
Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and told him what 
I had been doing and what I could do, and put the 
Argonaut absolutely at his service. He replied to me 
immediately. Unfortunately his letter seems to have 
disappeared from my files, but the gist of it was: "I 
believe every word you say. Your explanation of the 
Argonaut is a convincing one. I shall arrange for the 
appointment of a Naval Board to take this matter 
up" Years have passed and my memory may be 
somewhat in error; however, I am sure that I have 
stated accurately the contents of his letter. But there 
were many things to divert his attention and time 
went on. Presently he arranged to get into the war 
himself in person, as the movie stars say and he 
formed his Rough Riders. I do not know whether he 


ever put the matter before the rulers of the Navy. 
At all events I heard nothing from them a condition 
to which I had long been reconciled. I decided I 
would give a demonstration of my own. 

Hampton Roads had been mined as a protection 
against enemy ships. Later on we learned that *the 
Spanish fleet was not a formidable one, but then we 
knew little about it or its whereabouts. I moved 
down to Hampton Roads and browsed about in the 
channel as though the Argonaut were a peaceful old 
cow and the channel a pasturage filled with succulent 
grass. Once I drifted past a mine at a distance of 
five feet and saw it plainly through the window of 
the conning-tower. It was a weird experience, al- 
though I believe that none of them were set to ex- 
plode on contact. Thanks to the fact that the Argo- 
naut moved on wheels and that I could look out of 
an open window onto the channel bottom, I traced 
the cables and located the mines. I thought I would 
be able to convince the hardest-headed naval officer 
who ever put on a cap. 

I told the Navy what I had done. 

The Navy did not respond. The inference was that 
the Navy continued not to be interested. The Navy's 
sentiment seemed to be that Simon Lake was in 
again, and nothing could be done about it, but that 
no human power could make the Navy listen to him. 
But I am a persistent person. Later experience proved 
to me that I was right in my early conviction that 
there is hardly anything that cannot be done by a 
man who knows his business and keeps at it. I called 


on the commanding officer of the army post at Fort 

"You say you have done these things," he grunted 
in reply. "Then why do you come to me? Why don't 
you go to the Navy?" 

"I have been to the Navy. The Navy will not 

There was a pause for reflection. The Army and 
the Navy are competitors. Neither is precisely fond 
of the other. The commanding officer obviously did 
not believe the story I told him, but no doubt he 
thought that if by any chance I were telling the truth 
and he could prove it, he could pull the Navy's cap 
down over its ears. He said: 

"Here. Take this chit. Go see our engineer officer." 

I have forgotten the names. I took the command- 
ing officer's note and called on the engineer officer. 
He gave me the most impressive impersonation of a 
bored man I have ever known. 

"Not interested," said he. 

"Don't you understand/* I asked, "what it is that I 
have done? Don't you comprehend what this might 
mean in wartime?" 

"Well/' he said, "what you tell me isn't possible. 
I don't believe a word you say." 

"I've been all over the cable field/' I shouted at 
him. "I can draw a plan of it. I can show you where 
every one of your cables is and where your mines 

The engineer blew up. "Don't you ever do it 
again/* he yelled, bringing his chair down on its 


four legs. "Damn it, I won't have it. If I catch you 
at it TU lock you up." 

His reversal of position was only partial, however. 
Apparently he was convinced that I had done the 
things I claimed, but he refused to see their signifi- 
cance. Simon Lake and his submarine were not to be 
considered and to hell with them both. So I left 
Hampton Roads and went down to Virginia Beach 
to play around with the Argonaut. The channel was 
closed at sunset then, because of the war, and no- 
tices had been sent out that any vessel caught in the 
prohibited areas might be fired upon. One day we 
ran well out in the Roads, and were so interested in 
what we were doing that nightfall came before we 
were aware of it. 

"We're liable to catch it this time, Simon," said 
the men. 

"Catch what?" 

We submerged and crept into a pleasant anchor- 
age. Then we came up until only the conning-tower 
was visible and lay there all night, while the search- 
lights played over the water. If we had been seen 
the guns might have opened on us, but we could not 
be seen. I might have gone ashore and told the Army 
and the Navy what I had done, but it is never wise 
to wound the amour-propre of commissioned officers. 
The two services jointly held that I could not do the 
things I said I was doing every day, and that if I were 
caught doing them they would throw me in the brig. 
They were not very consistent, but they were at least 


It was at this time that Captain Sigsbee, who had 
been in command of the Maine when she was blown 
up in Havana Harbor, came into Hampton Roads 
with the Yale, a fast liner the Navy had taken over. 
He had as assistants two young lieutenants who had 
been in one of the disastrous attempts to cut the 
Spanish cables off Cardenas. They visited me on the 
Argonaut and when I told them what I had been 
able to do in locating mines and cables they asked 
Captain Sigsbee's permission to make a trip with me, 
A young officer is nearly always more willing to listen 
to a new idea than an older one who has been tied 
up by years of red tape and precedents. 

"No," said Sigsbee. "A submarine is a dangerous 
craft and you are the only naval men I have. I won't 
take the risk of losing you." 

The youngsters were confident that if they had 
been given the chance they could have ripped every 
Spanish cable off the coast of Cuba, but they did not 
get it. It was not until eight years later that a Board 
appointed by President Taft watched a test con- 
ducted off Newport, and reported that this method 
of cutting cables or laying mines provided the best 
harbor-defense means known to its members. Even 
now the American Navy does not own a submarine 
with these characteristics, although several other 
countries have undersea boats equipped with them. 


The Argonaut Makes Good 

I WAS bitterly angry at the Army and the Navy at 
this time. Of course I was. I had developed a 
submarine which, if not perfect forty years later 
the submarine is not perfect at least was able to de- 
liver the goods I promised and no other submarines 
could or did. I was thirty-two years old, full of 
strength as a barracuda, red-headed and, as I be- 
lieved, a deeply injured man. I saw other men with 
other submarines get sympathetic hearings from con- 
gressional committees and naval authorities, and 
money and contracts. I was the only man who could 
do anything under water and I was not even per- 
mitted to show what I could do. Because what I did 
was doing every day was so far ahead of what any 
one else had done, I was looked on as a nut. The 
joint attitude of the Army and Navy was: "Lake is a 
crank and a liar. He cannot do what he says he 
does. If we catch him doing it we'll knock down his 

Years passed before I thoroughly understood the 
reasons for this contemptuous neglect. Mind you, I 
am not the only inventor to be treated like a bound- 
boy. Only within a comparatively recent period has 
invention come into its own. Nowadays scientific 



articles fill the newspapers. A man who can do some- 
thing in a new and more efficient way and can prove 
it is sure of a hearing. Even the armed services do 
not entirely close their ears, for the drums of pub- 
licity are forever thumping just outside headquar- 
ters 1 -windows. Forty years ago the Army and Navy 
were something between a social club and an exclu- 
sive cult. Generals were still wearing side-whiskers 
and epaulets, and civilians were poor creatures only 
fitted to shoulder arms and swab decks. 

The fundamental reasons why inventors were kept 
at arms' length by the services are still in operation. 
Perhaps they always will be. It may be that they are 
unavoidably a part of the system. 

I was not the only inventornot by an entire class 
of inventors to suffer from this military attitude. 
Practically every worth-while weapon offered to the 
Army and Navy either has been developed because 
of civilian pressure or has been accepted in Europe 
before being taken up by Americans. 

During the Revolutionary War Dr. David Bush- 
nell of Saybrook, Connecticut, invented a submarine 
that was actually practicable. Only because of an acci- 
dent it failed in its initial test, and yet it so thor- 
oughly frightened the commandants of the British 
ships then stationed in the Hudson that skippers 
slipped their cables and went down to Sandy Hook. 
He actually sank a schooner by means of a floating 
mine. General George Washington complimented 
him for his ingenious device. But the military au- 
thorities of the day so derided him that he left the 


country. Years later he settled in Georgia under an 
assumed name and practised medicine there until he 

Robert Fulton was not recognized by his home 
government and the only recompense he ever re- 
ceived for his submarine experiments was from the 
British Government. Ericsson was laughed at by 
American military men and built his first Monitor 
with private capital. When she sank the Merrimac 
she was on builders' trial and had not been accepted 
by the Government. Maxim went to England to get 
his gun accepted and Hotchkiss first found backing 
in France. The Wright brothers were laughed at 
until France accepted their airplane. The Browning 
and Lewis guns were refused here until France and 
England had proved them. 

No American will admit that the officers of our 
Army and Navy are not as intelligent and alert and 
patriotic as those of any other nation. It is the system 
that is at fault, as I see it. Without a rigid discipline 
an armed force is no better than a mob. For years our 
Army and Navy were small in numbers and promo- 
tion was slow and difficult. A graduate officer of West 
Point or Annapolis who "stuck his neck out/' as they 
say nowadays, was a man marked with a cross. If a 
young man favored a new thing and the new thing 
proved successful, he made fools out of his superiors 
who had refused it. A wise young man took no 
chances. If the new thing failed the young man who 
favored it was lost. Each superior officer was moved 
by the same considerations. If he accepted anything 


sent up from below he made himself responsible for 
the possibly wild ideas of an almost unknown young 
man. If it failed he took the punishment, but if It 
succeeded the young man might get the credit. 

The easy way was to say "No" to all the tribe of 
irresponsible, cockeyed inventors. 

Many of them are cockeyed and irresponsible, too. 
Quite recently I have had plans submitted to me for 
the building of perpetual-motion machines. The 
Patent Office records are littered with schemes that 
can never work. Men are continually sending me 
blue-prints of mechanical idiocies. If I examine them 
I waste my time. If by chance one of them is thor- 
oughly practical and I have been at work on the same 
idea myself, I am exposed to the possibility that the 
other man will charge me with theft if I patent mine. 
An instinct of self-preservation has led me to refuse 
to look at most not all of the plans that are sent 
me. I am told that the movie magnates have been 
compelled to adopt a parallel course. They do not 
read scenarios that have not appeared in print, and 
thus save themselves from charges of plagiarism. 

At any rate, the end of the Spanish War found me 
in possession of a submarine that was admirably prac- 
tical but which had not secured a kind look. I spent 
months at Hampton Roads in exploring three wrecks 
which I had located, but as I lacked salvaging equip- 
ment I could not recover their cargoes. There was 
nothing more to be accomplished at Hampton Roads, 
for what I needed was money for more building, and 
the money simply was not there. But one thing had 


been accomplished. I was no longer an unknown 
man, and the press had given my little Argonaut a 
tremendous amount of sensational publicity. 

"I will take the Argonaut around to New York," 
I announced. 

"Murder and suicide," said friends and enemies 
alike. "That queer thing can never meet the seas out- 
side the protection of the land. She will roll over 
and drown" 

"The Argonaut" I protested, "is a perfectly sea- 
worthy boat." 

I was right about the little vessel. She proved to be 
perfectly seaworthy, but the Atlantic Ocean hardly 
played the game with us. We chugged out of the 
Chesapeake Bay, through the Delaware and Chesa- 
peake Canal and the Delaware River, as placidly as 
though we were sailing a paper boat in a bathtub. 
But when we got "outside" we found that things 
were happening on a big scale. The November storm 
of 1898, in which two hundred vessels were lost along 
the coast, was blowing up. If we had suspected that 
we were to be in for the worst kind of bad weather, 
we would have run for safety, of course, but we did 
not. Until the storm had become so bad that there 
was grave risk for all shipping at sea, we really did 
not know what we were in for. 

The Argonaut had very little reserve buoyancy, 
for she had been planned to operate under the sur- 
face and on the bottom. The more reserve buoyancy 
she had the more difficult it would be to submerge 


her. Furthermore, she was cigar-shapedthat being 
the form which submarines had taken up to this 
time and little attention had been paid to shaping 
her hull for operating on the surface. She grunted 
along through the storm, barely showing a segment 
of her hull above water at any time, and for the most 
part practically submerged. Inside the conning- 
tower we were blinded by the masses of water that 
continually washed over the boat. We steered by 
compass, of course, but it was also necessary that 
the enormous seas be met squarely. Otherwise, sea- 
worthy or not seaworthy, there was an excellent 
chance that the Argonaut would be rolled over like 
a cork. 

"I'll go outside," I told the boys. 

"Somebody'll have to," some one said. 

There's no nonsense about a sailorman. When a 
thing has to be done he does it. My men knew that 
a man lashed to the outside of the conning-tower, 
over which the seas washed almost as though it were 
a rock at half-tide, would not be precisely cozy. They 
thought nothing of it. Neither did I. It had to be 
done and I was the man who could do it best, for I 
knew the Argonaut as no one else did. The water 
froze on me as we plowed on, and by the time 
we got into the "Horseshoe" back of Sandy Hook, 
at three o'clock in the morning, I was a block of ice. 
The experience did me no harm. Out of it I got con- 
firmation of two previous impressions. 

The first was that the Argonaut was not long 
enough to be handled easily in rough water. 


The other was that she had to be reshaped. The 
cigar form did not give her enough buoyancy. 

As soon as it could be arranged financially, there- 
fore, I had her cut in two, and a twenty-foot-long 
mid-section slipped in. Of far greater importance, 
however, a ship-shaped form of light plating was 
built around and on her pressure-resisting hull. This 
superstructure was opened to the sea when it was 
desired to submerge her, and water was permitted to 
enter the space between the inner and the outer 
hulls. This equalized the pressure on the light outer 
plating and prevented the buckling which must 
otherwise have resulted from submerged pressure. 
The superstructure also increased her buoyancy when 
on the surface from 10 to about 40 per cent and she 
rose to the seas like an ordinary vessel, instead of 
wallowing sullenly through them like a floating log. 

This plan of hull construction has been adapted 
by all the builders of submarines since then. At the 
same time I changed the design of the original cigar- 
shaped hull, and devised one with rising axes. This 
overcame the danger of diving by the head which 
was a defect of the cigar-shaped form, increased the 
speed on an equivalent displacement, and gave a con- 
siderable increase in metacentric height over a vessel 
of equivalent length and beam. This ship-shaped 
form of hull is only suited to level keel submergence, 
and must be controlled by hydroplanes. 

Incorrectly informed writers have given credit for 
this improvement, which made sea-going submersi- 
bles possible, to the Krupps of Germany, to Naval 


Constructor Laubeuf of France, and to Naval Con- 
structor Laurenti of Italy. It is a fact, however, that 
on April 2, 1897, or ^ore than a year before we 
made our voyage "outside" to Sandy Hook, I had 
applied for a patent covering these features. Years 
later the Krupps contracted to build submarines for 
the Russian and German governments, and decided 
to adopt the Lake type of submarine, A contract was 
drawn with them for the use of my design, which 
they accepted by wire. The records of the patent 
offices of the world show that mine is the pioneer 
patent covering this type of vessel. 

The Argonaut's successful battle with the storm 
made one of the sensations of the day. The papers 
were filled for a week or more with the tales of 
vessels that had been lost at sea, and the story of 
our half-submerged wallowing into safety was one of 
the high bits of color. 

The tale was printed in France, and Jules Verne 
whose Nautilus had been responsible for my descent 
into the sea in a submersible cabled congratulations. 
That was one of the finest moments of my life. I have 
always maintained that Jules Verne was even more 
remarkable as a scientist than as a writer of romantic 
fiction. He had that penetrating imagination without 
which no inventor gets anywhere, coupled with an 
extraordinarily exact knowledge. There is to-day no 
better reading to be found than the novels of Jules 
Verne. I reread them from time to time, not for the 
purpose of reviving the memories of my youth, but 
because they are great stories. 


Ice-Water Cure for Pneumonia 

ONE of the other consequences of that voyage of 
the Argonaut through the storm of 1898 was 
that I was at last accepted seriously by the public. It 
was only natural that heretofore the publicity given 
to the Argonaut and its inventor had been of a more 
or less sensational kind. Reporters knew that never 
before had men been able to move about on the bot- 
tom of the sea, to reach an arm out of a window and 
pluck a sea-flower or gather a handful of oysters for 
dinner. The fact that they were able to do these 
things gave them a thrill and they wrote the most 
glowing stories. But I suspect that the mass of the 
public put the Argonaut and its inventor on the 
freak shelf, along with the men who talked of build- 
ing automobiles and flying-machines and those other 
tomfools who were wasting time over what was later 
to become known as the wireless. 

The good, average men who had a little property 
and a fair education liked to listen to us. We were 
exciting, for one thing. Our wild talk gave them a 
feeling of superiority, for another. 

But after the Argonaut had smashed and rolled 
her way through the November storm to safe anchor- 
age in the Horseshoe behind Sandy Hook some of 



the men whose names stood for reliability as well as 
enterprise in the journalistic world began to take an 
interest in us. Ray Stannard Baker, who was then 
the bright shining star of McC lure's Magazine, which 
itself was the forerunner of many breaks with musty 
precedent, got in touch with me one day. He said he 
wanted to have a talk with me about the Argonaut 
and submarines and exploring the sea bottom and 
the possible usefulness of these strange devices 
in the next war. The fact that the Argonaut had been 
able to come through one of the worst storms in 
recent memory along the Atlantic seaboard had im- 
pressed him. It is possible that up to this time he 
had looked on it as a mere toy. I do not know. 

"I want to bring an artist with me," he said, "to 
get a sketch of you. A man named Stevens. Sure you 
won't mind?" 

"I'd like to have him." 

I was then living with my family at Atlantic High- 
lands, in a big old house that had been standing 
empty for the better part of the previous season. 
Something had gone wrong with the heating appa- 
ratus, and when Baker and Stevens arrived the house 
was as cold as the middle cavern in an iceberg. The 
family was able to exist around the kitchen stove, I 
suppose, but I could not take my distinguished guests 
there, even if the family had welcomed them. Baker 
kept his overcoat on and Stevens had a sweater and a 

"But I don't want to sketch you in an overcoat," 


said Stevens. "If you don't mind taking off your coat, 
111 be through in fifteen minutes." 

Of course I did not mind. I was as husky as a 
water-buffalo, I had come through the battle with 
the storm, lashed and iced to the outside of the 
conning-tower and soaked with November seas, and 
had not reported even a sniffle, and I had never yet 
come to the end of my reserves of strength. Some- 
times I spent days in alternating between the cooking 
temperature of the Argonaut when her engines were 
at top speed and the frosty winds of her exterior, half 
soaked at that and never the worse for it. My physical 
endurance approximated that of a Chesapeake Bay 
dog. But there is a proverb about pitchers that keep 
on going to wells. Mr. Stevens' fifteen minutes 
stretched to four hours, and next day I woke up with 
a little fever and a tightness in my chest I had never 
felt before. My wife was worried. 

"Better stay in bed to-day, Simon," she said. 

"Just for a little while. I'm tired, somehow." 
. The little fever developed into a hot fever and the 
tightness became a pain. My wife sent for Dr. Fay 
and the word came back: "The Doctor is too sick to 
come. But he sent along a thermometer and said that 
Mr. Lake should hold it in his mouth for one min- 
ute. Then it is to be returned to him." 

I had heard of self-registering thermometers but I 
had never seen one. I held the tube in my mouth 
until I thought the temperature had been registered, 
and then took it out and tried to find out how much 


of a fever I was running. But I couldn't find the 
register. I fooled with it for a time and then called 
the messenger and sent it back to Dr. Fay. A hard 
snow had set in and the pellets of hail were rattling 
against the windows like fine shot. In an hour or two 
there came a knock at the door and there stood Dr. 
Fay wrapped up in all the clothes he could find, with 
his eyes swollen and watering and a cough that jarred 
the house. 

"My God, Simon," he said, "are you still alive?" 

"Why shouldn't I be alive?" 

"Because I never heard of a man who had a tem- 
perature of one hundred and eight and lived." 

He tried the thermometer again and found that 
while I had a hot fever, the register was nowhere near 
one hundred and eight. After a time I worked out 
what had happened. In my curiosity about the me- 
chanical features of the thermometer, I had held it 
in front of the old Rochester coal-oil lamp we used 
to light the room, and the heat of the lamp had 
driven the mercury up in the tube. Dr. Fay was 
pleasant about it. Sick as he was he laughed at me. 

"Nothing else could have been expected of you," 
he said. "You'd have postponed dying while you tried 
to find out how the machine worked/* 

Next day the hard snow was followed by a stiff 
northeaster. The Argonaut had been tied up along- 
side the dock at Atlantic Highlands, with a caretaker 
on board. Toward night he came galloping into the 


"The Argonaut is pounding against the dock with 
every wave/' he said. 'Tm afraid shell start a seam 
and sink. What will I do?" 

There was only one thing to do. The Argonaut 
had to be taken from that dock into the safe anchor- 
age of the Horseshoe, and I was the only man to do 
it. So I got into my clothes. I took the engineer 
along to run the engine and we cast off from the 
dock. It was a hard thrash through the gathering sea 
until midnight, and for the whole time I was at my 
old post, lashed fast outside the conning-tower, ice 
forming on me with every breaking wave. Once 
ashore I walked three miles before I could find a rig 
in which to ride home, but the next morning I had 
no sign of pneumonia never felt better in my life. 
But I don't recommend the treatment. 

Much the same thing happened when I was just a 
youngster. I had taken out a little schooner, the Susan 
Daugherty, for a short cruise, and a day or so out I 
began to run a fever. I did not want to cut the cruise 
short, so I laid some blankets down on the floor of 
the cabin, alongside the trunk for the center-board, 
and undertook to sleep it off. That night a storm 
blew up and I was called to the deck to handle her. 
We were drifting toward the shore. 

"I'll have to furl that jib," I said. 

I crawled out on the bowsprit, and every time we 
met a wave I went under neck and heels. But I got 
the jib tied down and then went back into the cabin 
and began to catch up on my sleep. When I wakened, 
the fever was gone and I had the appetite of all 


appetites. Again, however, I would not suggest this 
treatment to the medical men. It might not work 
every time. 

Our finances had been partly restored thanks in 
part at least to the advertising which resulted from 
the Argonaut's triumph over Davy Jones and I de- 
cided to begin work on the changes that had been 
determined on. The Argonaut was to be lengthened 
by twenty feet, and the sea-going superstructure 
added. I worked her round to Robbins dry-dock in 
Brooklyn and we got her out of the water and up on 
the pier. When we first tied up alongside the Robbins 
dock we were welcome as the first flowers, for the 
Robbins Company had little work in sight and not 
much on the dock. But then business began to come 
in as a result of the ending of the Spanish War. In 
one day seventeen United States transports came in 
for repairs. They got the attention, for the Govern- 
ment had the money. Now and then a workman came 
around to look at the Argonaut, hit her a lick or two 
with a hammer, and then went away again. W. R. 
Todd was then superintendent of the Robbins Ship- 
building Company. Later on he was to organize the 
W. R. Todd Company and become one of the coun- 
try's foremost ship-builders. Bill was a great man and 
a driver, who knew every inch of his business, but 
he was inclined to be a bit heavy-handed at times. 
This is not a criticism. The man who can run a ship- 
yard must be all man. I had been bothering him to 
get to work on my Argonaut, but my position was 
weak, for I had no money and I owed a lot for the 


work that had been done. I was confident that the 
money would come in, but I did not know when or 
where it would come from. One day I bore down on 
Todd, determined to get some kind of action, but 
Bill beat me to it. 

"Hi, Simon," he said. "I'm getting damned tired 
of seeing that Argonaut of yours hanging around 
here, taking up good room. If we got rid of it we 
could do some business. Anyhow, it's damn near time 
we had some money out of you." 

"She'd have been out of here long ago if you had 
put some men at work on her. But you have got a 
lot of tramps in this yard. I've watched 'em. Give 
me some men who know their business and I'll get 
her off the dock in no time at all." 

Those were fighting words, of course. Todd roared 
at me: 

"You complain about the way we've treated yotu 
My God Almighty, don't you know there's twenty- 
two thousand dollars worth of extras charged against 
her right now?" 

"There isn't a nickel's worth of extras on her, Bill. 
Don't you ever read your contracts? Mine called for 
twenty-five dollars a day penalty if you did not finish 
the job on time, and no extras to be charged unless 
I gave the order in writing." 

"Is that so?" Todd yelled. "Is-that-so?" 

"You bet it's so. Haven't you even read the letters 
I have been writing the company, in which I com- 
plained of the manner in which this job was han- 


"I'll talk no more with you," said Todd. "You go 
see the boss." 

In the end I got to see Mr. Robbins himself. He 
was no longer very active, but he kept in close touch 
with his business. He heard me very pleasantly and 
at last said: "This is a matter for the lawyers, Simon. 
Ill see what mine says. You come in at four o'clock 
to-morrow and 111 tell you what 111 do." 

At four o'clock the next day I was on hand. Rob- 
bins smiled at me. 

"Tell me, Simon," he said, "who wrote that con- 

"I did. Every word of it." 

"That's what my lawyer said. He said no lawyer 
ever had a hand in it. He said, 'It's so plain and clear 
that any jury in the world would find for Lake. You'd 
better settle.' " 

Robbins sent word to Todd to let me pick the men 
I wanted and to let me boss the job. That made it 
easy. The only trouble was that the good mechanics 
had been put on the government jobs and I had been 
given a bunch of bums. In two weeks we had 
the new Argonaut in the water and ran her around 
to Bridgeport, Connecticut, where I had lived at one 
time. We had a tremendous reception bands, school- 
children marching and waving flags, flowers, speeches. 
I determined to please my friends by giving her a 
trial run. 

We invited twenty-eight persons to go with us, and 
twenty-seven of them accepted. The banks of the 
river were lined with people. When I cast off I prom- 


ised the crowd that we would return by two o'clock 
in the afternoon, but after we were submerged we 
simply lost track of the time. It was only possible 
to take two people at a time in the air-lock with me, 
and every one of the twenty-seven wanted to have 
that experience. At four o'clock we returned to the 
official pier and came to the surface. Bill Doyle, the 
editor of the Bridgeport Standard, was standing on 
one of the posts of the dock. When we got near the 
dock he shook his fist at me. 

"You damned fool!" he yelled. "Do you know what 
you have done, you idiot? You had us all scared to 
death. We thought you were all dead!" 

In the earlier type of Argonaut we drew air in 
through a hollow mast fifty feet long. While we were 
resting on the bottom, having a grand time sending 
our friends out to pick clams and oysters and beautiful 
iridescent jingle-shells from the bottom of the Sound 
this mast extended above the surface of the water, 
of course. John Fisher, one of the star singers for 
the phonograph company, entertained us with "Down 
Went McGinty" and other appropriate and tuneful 
songs, we cooked and served our guests a fish dinner, 
and had a bully time. Among our guests were the 
mayor of Bridgeport, the heads of the telephone and 
Locomobile companies, and various bankers, mer- 
chants, and professional men. There is no doubt that 
Bridgeport would have sustained a mighty loss if they 
had been drowned. 

When we did not return on time the people along 
the shore got worried and sent out a tug to find out 


what was going on. The men on the tug had no diffi- 
culty in finding our mast protruding from the water 
and rapped on it to get our attention and find out 
what was going on. But McGinty was going down 
uproariously, the chowder was being eaten, every one 
was talking, and between times my friends were 
being taken into the air-lock by one's and two's. No 
one heard the raps on the mast. 

"They must be all dead," the tugmen reported. 

The good folks of Bridgeport wired Merritt and 
Chapman of New York to hurry a wrecking barge to 
die scene, 

"1*11 not allow the newspapers to carry a line," 
declared Doyle, or some one else in authority. Or 
perhaps the journalistic chiefs got together in this 
agreement. "What we fear is too horrible. Nothing 
shall be printed until we know all." 

But the news got around, as news has a way of 
doing, and when we finally approached the dock at 
four o'clock the streets were jammed with silent 
people, waiting for the news of the tragedy. Doyle 
apologized later for bawling me out, when he learned 
from the mayor and the other guests that if I had 
been at fault, at least the fault was shared by all 
the others. He had no support from my guests. They 
had had the time of their lives. Now and then I see 
some of those who are still alive and they are still 


Success in Salvaging Sunken Cargoes 

I HAD been licked in my encounters with the 
Navy, blown, you might say, right out of the 
water. I did not like this. I do not ever like to take a 
licking* But it seemed there was nothing I could do 
about it. I said to myself, "One of these days they'll 
want me, but I'll never go back to Washington until 
they send for me." 

Then I went to work on what was, after all, my 
real job. I had never been much taken by the military 
possibilities of the submarine. It would be a mag- 
nificent weapon some day. Any one could see that. 
But I was not interested in drowning people and 
sinking ships. The thing I had always had in mind 
was the salvaging of cargoes from ships already sunk, 
and doing other commercial and scientific work. 
There must be enough jewels on the floor of the sea 
to hang a necklace on every good-looking neck in 
America. And there were plenty of heavy cargoes, 
too, that would be worth bringing to the surface. If 
high naval authority is well informed, the entire ship 
population of the Seven Seas is sunk once every 
twenty-five years. A ship can, under certain circum- 
stances, almost last forever, but few of them do, I 

have a list of seven thousand vessels carrying valuable 



cargo that have been sunk in comparatively recent 
times. If I had let the military men alone and stuck 
to the salvaging idea I would have made a great deal 
more money in the years to come. It is true that I 
might not have had so much fun. 

The rebuilt Argonaut was practically fitted to the 
sound new business on which I proposed to embark, 
It was big enough to hold a crew large enough to do 
the work. It wheeled over the bottom as though it 
were a bicycle on its wheels with their foot-wide 
tires. Each wheel was three feet in diameter and 
under a modified arrangement could be housed in 
the keel when it was not lowered for travel in the 
water-bed. A "cushioning" bowsprit was also fitted, 
with a heavy wire running from its tip down to the 
keel. With this arrangement I could run over boul- 
ders or small wrecks. Remember that the Argo- 
naut when submerged could be so controlled that its 
negative buoyancy was only a few pounds. It was 
actually possible to step out on the sea bottom, 
through the door in the diving compartment, and 
move the whole boat by the comparatively slight pres- 
sure o one hand. When we went automobiling on 
the bottom of the sea it could rise over any obstacle 
the bowsprit could top, and travel safely up the sides 
of declivities with angles of as much as forty-five 
degrees. No surface automobile could do as well. 

I told my friends at Bridgeport that I proposed to 
search the sea bottom and they believed me. This 
was almost the first time, it seems to me, looking 
backward, that I had not been met by doubt, if not a 


blunt denial, when I announced my plans. But the 
twenty-seven people who had been my guests during 
the four hours' submergence which had so frightened 
the people of Bridgeport had spread the story of 
their experiences. We had cooked a meal under 
water, played games, gathered sea-shells through the 
door which opened into the water, and had a very 
jolly time. They refused to believe that the Argonaut 
could not do anything I promised for her. 

"There are plenty of sunken vessels hereabouts," 
the old sea captains told me. 

"I can find them," I promised. 

"If you can find one of 'em you've got a fortune." 

One of the lost vessels belonged to the Thames 
Towboat Company and had been consigned to the 
Orford Copper Company in Brooklyn with a load of 
copper ore and copper matte from New London, 
Connecticut. Seven years previously she went down 
during a storm and the owners of the cargo had im- 
mediately sent out a wrecking tug in an effort to 
locate her. The wreckers failed, and then a former 
superintendent of the company, knowing the value 
of the ore and matte, fitted out a searching expedi- 
tion of his own. After two years he gave it up. 

"You'll never find her," the old sea captains said. 

"My new wreck-finder will locate her inside of two 
days." It did, too, off Hammonasset Point. When the 
usual preliminaries had been gotten through we 
went to work to salvage the cargo. I sent samples of 
the ore and matte to various smelters, but the win- 
ning bid came from the original owners. They knew 


the intrinsic value because the ore had been taken 
from their own mines. It made us a very pretty penny 
and confirmed me in the belief I had held so long 
that the salvaging of lost cargoes is a business worth 
the attention of any man. 

Before bringing up a cargo it is necessary, o 
course, to find the wreck. My predecessors in the sal- 
vaging business had dragged the bottom in a more 
or less desultory fashion. The fact that two thor- 
oughly competent wrecking outfits had hunted more 
or less continuously for three or four years in an 
effort to find the vessel with the cargo of ore and 
matte is evidence enough that something was wrong 
with their plan. My wreck-finder was simplicity it- 
self. For that matter, most worth-while ideas are. 

With my method we were able to search about 
twenty square miles of bottom each day, provided 
the bottom were free of obstructions other than 
wrecks. In a very little while we had located sixteen 
sunken vessels in Long Island Sound. There was not, 
so far as I know, even local tradition on the names 
and fates of some of them. One was led to reflect 
somewhat soberly on the life the sailor leads. The 
average land-keeping mechanic would be on his soap- 
box every Saturday night to complain of his hard 
fate, if he worked half as hard as the sailor does. The 
sailor is wet most of the time. He is turned out of his 
half-dead sleep in the middle of the night to help 
save his life and his vessel, and he finally drowns 
anonymously, no one knows where. Yet there is rarely 
any shortage of seafaring men. 


No one had ever tried to salvage cargoes in a really 
businesslike way. Divers had been sent down to break 
into the strong-rooms of vessels in an effort to recover 
treasure, but salvaging of that kind is disproportion- 
ately expensive and rather dangerous. It is miserably 
easy to foul a diver's lines, and the necessity of de- 
flating the diver that is a heartless way to put it, 
perhaps, but that is precisely what happens when the 
air-pressure is lifted is a tedious one. If it is not 
managed properly the diver will be attacked by the 
painful "bends" and perhaps die. I had realized that 
my enterprise would only succeed if we had new 

I built a submersible cargo-carrier which proved 
to be a complete success. It was shaped like the 
pressure-resisting portion of the Argonaut, cylindrical 
in form and air-tight. In practice it was anchored 
near a wreck, and by means of air- and water-valves 
the air was permitted to escape and water to enter. 
When on the bottom the diver removed the hatch 
cover, the boat was loaded, the compressed air was 
turned on and the water forced out, and the boat 
rose to the surface. 

That operation was easy enough if the conditions 
were right. Some of the sunken boats were loaded 
with coal, which is an easy cargo to handle. We 
merely ran the muzzle of a big suction pump into 
the hold, drew the coal into the submersible freight 
boat, and then walked away with her. The coal in 
one of the cargoes we recovered was of a lovely 
iridescent purple and blue, and we found that it 


must have come from the famous old Peacock mine, 
which had not been worked for seventy years or more. 
The cost of recovering coal was only about fifty cents 
a ton, and it was salable for several dollars a ton as 
rapidly as we could get it on the dock, for coal is not 
injured by water. Our deep-sea equipment permitted 
the recovery of three hundred tons an hour at two 
hundred-foot depth. 

Not all cargoes could be handled in this easy and 
profitable fashion. We found one with a deck cargo 
of scrap-iron, and hides and flour in the hold. The 
vessel had been sunken at least thirty-six years, for 
we communicated with the postmaster of the town in 
which the hides had been made, and found the tan- 
nery had been out of business fully that long. The 
exterior of the scrap-iron was rusted into a solid shell 
but the inside was all right and we broke it up and 
got it out. We sold both the hides and the iron at a 
profit, and my recollection is that the flour in the 
center of the barrels was dry in spite of its long sub- 
mersion. It was a fine, adventurous business in which 
we were engaged, with a distinct gambling flavor. We 
worked hard to get our lines on three vessels, only 
to discover that two were loaded with stones and the 
third with oyster shells. They were not worth bother- 
ing with. 

Heavy cargoes, especially of materials that had been 
welded into solid masses by time and water, of course 
could not be pumped out. For jobs of this kind I 
later employed a different rig. The heavier machinery 
was placed on board a surface vessel and only the 


mechanical devices needed for the diver and his 
operations were in the auxiliary submarines. For 
other operations a tube was employed, large enough 
for a man to descend comfortably on a ladder, and 
with a well-lighted observation chamber at the lower 
end from which he could walk into the water just 
as though he were stepping out of the water-lock on 
the Argonaut. 

This tube had one very great advantage over any- 
thing that had been tried before. A diver was not 
continually yanked and mauled by the currents of 
the sea. The movement of the water below the surface 
is about the same as on the surface. That is to say, 
a ten-foot wave, from hollow to crest, will stir the 
water for approximately ten feet below its greatest 
depth. The surface vessel to which the diver is at- 
tached is continually rising and falling, and some- 
times is under the constant necessity of maintaining 
its position through the use of power. It is fatally 
easy for the long lines trailing behind a diver to loop 
around some projection of a wreck, because of this 
intermittent pull from the surface. 

My submersible ship for a diver's operations, how- 
ever, lies quietly at rest on the bottom. In the lesser 
depths the diver does not need to use the tube but 
operates as I have previously described. When it is 
necessary to attach the tube to a surface ship, as I 
have done when the use of the submersible mother- 
ship did not seem advisable, a ball-and-socket toggle 
on the tube took up most of the play due to the 
movement of the surface. 


1 'V.-v 'J&'-ss; 
. ' ' . ,^V$* 


.V;.''' 1 .;^.<lgi^i 



With this apparatus, Simon Lake has experimented successfully in 
retrieving treasure from the ocean floor. 


Early in my salvage operations the fact was brought 
home to me that playing around sunken wrecks may 
be far more dangerous than cruising over sea bottoms 
looking for enemy cables to cut. We were lying along- 
side a rather good-sized wreck. 

"She has a big overhang," the diver reported. 

"We'll keep clear of her." 

Easier said than done. The diver was in and out, 
doing his work, and the Argonaut shifted her posi- 
tion. There might have been a bottom current. Some- 
times there is. Perhaps the movement of the man 
inside started her, for when a submersible is very 
nicely balanced under water, it sometimes happens 
that the change of balance due to the change in 
weight positions will give the boat a slight impetus 
in one direction or another. When we were ready to 
ascend we closed the water-gate and blew out the 
ballast tanks, but the Argonaut did not rise. 

"Better go out and see what's the matter." 

We let the water in again to hold her stable, and 
the diver investigated. He reported that the Argo- 
naut's nose was firmly snuggled under the wreck's 
overhang and that he could not move her. 

"What's worse," he said, "there's so much loose 
wreckage floating around down there that if you start 
the propellers you might snap them off." 

There we were, stuck hard and fast on the bottom. 
We could not go on blowing out our ballast tanks, 
for we had only a limited amount of air. The one 
thing we could do was to sit there and wait for the 
tide to change, and try not to tell each other ghost- 


stories. Eventually the tide changed, the Argonaut 
wriggled her nose out of the clutch of the overhang, 
and we were free. But as soon as we got on the deck 
of the surface vessel two of my men told me they had 
given up a subaqueous life for good. They were very 
nice and polite about it but they were firm. They 
were not like another man, who was detained at an- 
other time under water by one of the annoying little 
incidents that used to happen in those early days. 

"When I get out of here," he said, "I'm going to 
tell a funny story to Simon Lake." 

At last the boat was freed and came to the surface. 

"What's your funny story?" asked the mate. 

"This is it," he said, as he got into his coat and 
took his dinner bucket. "You tell Simon Lake to go 
to hell. I'll never set foot on that submarine again." 

Some years later I was to use my apparatus in 
efforts to recover historic sunken treasure, but in the 
meantime some exciting events were to transpire. 
My salvaging operations on heavy cargo proved to 
be genuinely profitable. They carried me through 
the year 1900 with a nice profit in the bank, the 
field was widening out before our eyes, and it seemed 
to me that the Lake family could hardly avoid hav- 
ing one millionaire in it. Our submarine explora- 
tions attracted so much attention that years later I 
received a most remarkable message. The World 
War had been fought and won by the Allies with 
the aid of the United States, and we had so far re- 
turned to a normal state of mind that we began seri- 
ously to contemplate the salvaging of the Lusitania's 


cargo. One day I got a letter, written on excellent 
stationery, by a woman who was evidently a person 
of culture: 

Dear Mr. Lake [she wrote], I see by the newspapers 
that you are about to undertake the salvaging of the 
Lusitania's cargo. If this is the truth, I wish to ask you 
to do me a very great favor. Do you mind recovering my 
100,000 diamond necklace? I value it not only for its 
intrinsic value, but because my husband gave it to me. 
Finding it will be a simple matter. It is under the pillow 
in my bed in Stateroom 357 Deck B. 

The funny thing is that it might be found right 
there one never can tell though I doubt if the 
pillow has lasted. 


Invention of the Periscope 

A BLIND submarine would no more frighten 
an enemy than a blind hawk would worry 
a henyard. Every one of us at work on submarine 
designing knew that quite well, but not one of us 
had ever succeeded in giving eyes to our monsters 
once they were submerged. It is true that we could 
cruise on the surface with the conning-tower exposed, 
but that would be only a target in wartime. If the 
presence of a submarine were suspected an enemy 
vessel need only wait around. Sooner or later curi- 
osity or one of the various needs of operation would 
compel her to "breach" like a whale. What would 
follow would in a way resemble trap-shooting. If the 
gunner were quick enough he could hit the clay 

"I want to get my seeing eye above surface in some- 
thing so small that It will not attract attention," I 
told my associates. "Something as nearly invisible as 

In fact, I was describing the periscope of the fu- 
ture, but as yet I had no idea how that mechanism 
could be made to function, nor even what it would 
be. That is the way inventions are born. One has an 
idea, and then one fumbles around with it for a long 



time. Meanwhile we had tried various experiments. 
John P. Holland had equipped his Plunger type with 
what he called a "camera lucida/' which did not dif- 
fer so widely from the cameras obscura which used to 
be side-show attractions at the country fairs. The 
faint reflection of the landscape might be seen in 
shadow on a white background, but no indication 
of direction or distance was given. It was not a prac- 
tical device. 

In my hunting about for an "eye" I remember that 
one of my schemes was to send a man to the surface 
in a buoy, which could support him there while he 
made his observations through glass windows set in 
its slides, but I do not believe we even made a model 
of this device. Nor did we build the "observation 
cage," a water-tight, barrel-shaped container in which 
a man could be lifted above the water by means of a 
hinged mast. The mast, when not in use, would lie on 
the deck. As soon as I had reduced these plans to the 
blue-print stage I realized their absurdity. Then I 
got the idea which was the progenitor of every peri- 
scope in use to-day. Without the periscope the sub- 
marine navy would be helpless. 

I say I got the idea, but that was all. I talked with 
people who knew something about optics, and after 
they discovered what it was I wanted to do they 
joined the very considerable body of good citizens 
who thought that Simon Lake was crazy. Without 
exception they told me that what I was trying to do 
could not be done. There seems no doubt that they 


won the argument on points. But I insisted that it 
must be done. 

"What I wanted to do was to assemble some lenses 
and prisms at the outer end of a tube and direct a 
view of the surrounding scene down the tube to an 
eyepiece or a mirror or perhaps only a white cloth 
in the conning-tower. I knew very definitely what I 
wanted to do and I had not the remotest idea how 
to do it. I bought all the books I could find on optics 
and studied them, and ultimately got a little clearer 
vision of my original idea. Then I saw a job lot of 
lenses in a show window and bought them all, "as 
is." I do not now remember how many lenses I got, 
but it was plenty, of all sizes and descriptions. When 
I had nothing else to do I would assemble various 
combinations of lenses and prisms on a drawing- 
board and stick it out the window of the Bridgeport 

Nothing ever happened. 

I could not see anything through my combinations, 
no matter how I changed them. I was going at it 
blind, for I knew almost nothing about the laws of 
optics, and when by way of amusement I worked out 
the mathematical sum of the possible changes I was 
horrified. Then one day I set up a combination I 
had never tried before and thrust it out of the win- 
dow on the drawing-board- 
Miracle of miracles, I could see! 
It was a dull, heavy day, and I can still remember 
seeing in the little reflecting mirror the picture of 
Bridgeport's street and the tree-shaded pavements 


and people walking and wagons rolling toward the 
harbor. I had succeeded in doing what every one had 
said could not be done. A submarine need no longer 
cower blindly under the water when in enemy neigh- 
borhood, but could go about its dangerous business 
like a real sea-serpent. I was tremendously excited. 
Then the door opened from the inner office and one 
of the draftsmen called to me to pass on some prob- 
lem that had arisen. I went into the other room, 
leaving the drawing-board with the prisms and lenses 
sticking out of the window over Bridgeport's street. 

While I was in the drafting-room rain began to 

That may seem a matter of small consequence, but 
as a matter of fact a five-minute shower delayed the 
creation of the periscope-that-was-tchbe for weeks. 
The office-boy was suddenly overcome by efficiency, 
and seeing the board with the lenses being wetted 
by the rain he pulled it in. Of course, the lenses 
were all jumbled up. I found that I had not the 
slightest idea in what order they had been arranged, 
and I could not rediscover the combination through 
which I had been able to see. I spent days in shuffling 
and reshuffling the parts of my puzzle and nothing 
happened. I could not recapture that first brilliant 
view of a crowded Bridgeport street which for a brief 
part of a minute had been the most satisfying sight of 
my whole life. 

About that time I learned that a member of the 
faculty of Johns Hopkins University was considered 
the best man on optics in the country. I packed my 


grip and started for Baltimore to tell my troubles to 
the professor. He listened to me in patience and 
then shook his head. 

"Sorry to disappoint you. You are trying to do the 

"But I've done it." 

The professor sat up at that. "That puts a differ- 
ent face on it. Tell me just what you did and what 
you got." 

I was able to give him the focal lengths of the 
lenses and other bits of information. 

"Come back to-morrow. I may be able to tell you 

He worked on it that night and the next day was 
able to describe to me the optical principle on which 
the periscope of to-day is based. After some experi- 
menting I was able to secure practically normal vision 
through a tube of considerable length. Later I 
learned that Sir Howard Grubb of England was ex- 
perimenting with a similar device at about the same 

At first the heads of other periscopes were rigid, so 
that in order to get a view of the entire horizon it 
was necessary to swing the ship. But this was not 
satisfactory. I wanted to see everything the moment 
the head of my sighting instrument protruded above 
the water. My hope was to get the same compre- 
hensive view that one might get if, for example, he 
were looking down on the scene through a hole in 
the bottom of the basket of a balloon. I wanted not 
only to see everything in its proper proportions but 


to measure the distance an enemy ship might be 
from us and the speed at which it was traveling. I 
called this instrument the "omniscope," meaning "to 
see everything/' and built several of the type for our 
first Russian boats. But they were not successful. I 
was able to see the entire horizon at a glance, but 
the distances did not seem normal. Then one day I 
discovered how and where I was wrong. 

I was walking down a street in Braunschweig in 
Germany, returning to my lodgings after a visit to the 
shops of the Voightlander Optical Company, where 
our instruments were being made. It was as though a 
curtain had been lifted for me, and I stopped short 
in the street. 

"Simon," I said to myself, "you're a fool. You 
can't outdo nature." Man is not equipped with a fly's 
eyes. His view is extremely limited, for he can only 
see clearly about two and a half degrees of the three 
hundred and sixty degrees of the horizon. If you 
doubt this, look steadily at a fixed point for ex- 
ample, a finger held about one foot from your eyes 
and then hold a printed card in the other hand 
about three inches to the right or left of the finger. 
You will find that you cannot read the printed matter 
without moving your eyeballs to bring the letters in 
focus. The objective lens in the head of the periscope 
simply produces the image and transmits it through a 
right-angled prism down a tube. At the foot of the 
tube the first image is viewed by another long-focus 
lens and this is turned right side up and magnified 
by the lens in the eyepiece. This may sdund extremely 


complicated, but it is entirely simple in action. Be- 
cause of the loss of light it is necessary to reduce the 
field of vision to about forty-five degrees to make dis- 
tant objects seem normal. 

While the periscopes I installed in our early boats 
were capable of being rotated or elevated, some other 
builders used fixed periscopes. The first serious acci- 
dent coupled with loss of life in the submarine di- 
vision of the British Navy might be charged against 
the periscope. The A-i was running in the English 
Channel with her periscope exposed. The lookout 
on the A-i did not see a fast steamer coming up on 
her and the steamer did not see the periscope. The 
A-i was lost with her entire crew. 

Our company built the U-i and the U-2 for the 
Austrian Government, both with the rotating type 
of periscope. Austria also purchased another type of 
submarine, which was equipped with the fixed peri- 
scope. One day this boat took her station alongside 
the pier and the commander emerged through the 
conning-tower hatch. I've no doubt he said, "Donner- 
wetter! Pig-dogl Dummkopf! . . ." and many other ex- 
pletives that may have occurred to him, for a white 
something was fluttering from her conning-tower. 
While the boat had been running submerged, except 
for the head of the periscope, some humorous officers 
had run alongside in a small launch and tied their 
visiting-cards to the tube. In those days the ma- 
chinery was so noisy that those inside could not 
possibly have heard anything from the outside, and 
the slight bump when the launch made contact with 


the U-boat must necessarily have passed unnoticed. 

Incidents of this kind soon brought about a change 
in the periscope equipment. Nowadays it is custom- 
ary to use two periscopes, one being used to con the 
ship's course and the other to keep an eye on the 
water in all directions. In this way the danger of 
surface collisions is lessened, and a competent navi- 
gating officer will have so definite a notion of the 
number and whereabouts of the ships in the vicinity 
that little will be risked by again submerging. When 
navigating officers were only able to see three or four 
degrees of the horizon through the first periscopes 
a real danger was encountered in coming up after a 
4 dive. 

Once, I remember, we ran across the bows of a 
Bridgeport excursion steamer, and knew nothing of 
it until the next day. On another occasion we came 
up under a pleasure launch, and the launch lodged 
against our conning-tower. We felt the bump, of 
course, and when the steersman peered out through 
the portholes he looked into- a pretty little boat filled 
with screaming ladies. He saw them rather than 
heard them, and had a good story to tell of their 
startled eyes and their white teeth, but their voices 
did not penetrate the conning-tower hatch, already 
clamorous with machinery noises. I reversed her en- 
gines and submerged again and the launch with the 
load of ladies was left floating and unharmed. An- 
other time we banged up against the bottom of a 
big barge but did no damage except to snap off our 
flagstaff. Nowadays the underwater hearing devices 


have been so nearly perfected that a submarine can 
locate any vessel moving in its vicinity, so that the 
danger we once accepted as a trade risk has been 
practically eliminated. 

Luck was with me all through the incident of the 
discovery of the periscope. It was luck that gave me 
that first combination of prisms and lenses. The next 
good fortune was that I found an old German who 
knew more about the practical end of the business 
of optics than all the rest of America. He was the 
only man on this side of the water who could make 
crown-glass. Without this there can be no prisms, 
and he had introduced prisms to this country al- 
though, poor devil, he made no profit out of it. We 
planned together our first rough but workable peri- 
scope before turning that end of the business over 
to the Governments scientists. When we began to 
build submarines in Europe the periscopes and range- 
finding devices were made in Italy and Germany. 

There is this grave defect about a periscope. It is 
next to useless at night, and yet submarine com- 
manders always operate under cover of darkness 
when this is possible, I have invented a night-seeing 
device which I believe will be practical, but it has 
not yet been given a thorough test. To describe it as 
simply as possible, it is a dome of silvered glass which 
in use barely projects above the surface of the water. 
The observer is able to see in all directions and the 
dome itself is practically invisible at a distance of 
one hundred yards. 

The Argonaut was no longer considered a freak at 


Bridgeport. She was a working lady, scavenging about 
on the floor of the Sound, and making a very good 
business of it. The newspapers had stopped paying 
much attention to her, for she was no longer news, 
but the Navy watched with a good deal of interest. 
John P. Holland had built the Plunger under the 
appropriation granted by Congress in 1893, but the 
Plunger obstinately insisted on living up to her name. 
She would plunge magnificently, but she could not 
be controlled, and was finally abandoned in 1900 
without having made a single submerged run. Mr. 
Holland built in her place a smaller boat, the Hol- 
land^ which was accepted by the Navy, and in June, 
1900, Congress authorized the Navy to contract for 
five more boats of the Holland type, at a cost of 
$170,000 each. 

Congress did the picking and buying in those days 
and the officers of the Navy, who really knew what it 
was all about and who had the job of working and 
fighting the boats that Congress bought, were hardly 
listened to. The Navy did not like the Holland boat 
at all, even if Congress did, and some of its officers 
quietly urged the claims of Simon Lake's hard-work- 
ing little Argonaut. After all, the Argonaut was sub- 
merging every day, as a part of her day-to-day busi- 
ness, and acting as though it were a commonplace. No 
other submarine had ever remotely approached that 
record. Every submarine of which I had knowledge 
at that time was submerged as an adventure and her 
return to the surface was regarded as an escape. One 
day I got a telegram from Eugene Hale, of Maine, 


at that time chairman of the Senate's Naval Affairs 
Committee: "Come over to Washington and see me." 

Sometimes nowadays I -wonder at myself. There I 
was, having fought through some hard years, safely 
established in the profitable and conservative busi- 
ness of salvaging, with good prospects ahead and no 
competition. Nothing could have been better, and 
the taste was all the sweeter to me because of the 
bitterness o the very recent past. There had been 
one time when I was so hard up that for three days 
we could not work because I was unable to pay a 
Bridgeport merchant's bill for seventeen dollars. The 
only way I could get the money was to borrow it, for 
we dared not move the Argonaut from her buoy, 
and only those who have borrowed money under such 
conditions know the reluctance with which dollars 
leave their owners' warm pockets. But we had grown 
triumphantly solvent, we had credit everywhere, a 
nice balance in the bank, and not a debt in the world. 

I knew precisely what I was offered by that tele- 
gram from Hale. I would get a chance to lose my 
money, wreck my business, dissolve my credit, waste 
my time, be bedeviled by politicians, and get the run- 
around and the high-hat from naval officers who did 
not know anything about me or my Argonaut and 
did not care. It was common knowledge that there 
was a submarine lobby in Washington which was 
using indecent methods, and I knew that because I 
was a submarine man there was danger that I would 
be tarred with that stick. 

Yet I went to Washington. 


The truth is, of course, I wanted to build a Lake 
submarine for the Navy. Every inventor sees his in- 
vention and the rest of the world through his own 
spectacles. I was as sure that my submarine was bet- 
ter than any other submarine as I was that the Presi- 
dent lived in the White House, and I felt that if the 
American Navy were possessed of a fleet of Lake 
submarines my country would be safe from any at- 
tack by sea. To be candid about it, too, I had been 
pretty badly treated by those who should have treated 
me well. I had been compelled to meet opposition 
which used unfair weapons, and I was angry. When 
I saw Hale I found him well informed and sympa- 

"Go over and see Rear-Admiral Melville/* he said. 
"He knows what is going on." 

Melville was a fine old seaman. He had long white 
hair and a kindly face and the most honest eyes I 
ever looked into, and he swore like the very devil. 
It was shocking to hear him, not because of his pro- 
fanity but because he looked so much like a saint 

"A lot of Goddamned treasury-robbers are trying 
to shove boats down the Navy's neck," he bellowed. 
"Our hands are tied. I cross the street when I see 
one of the Goddamned thieves coming my way." 

Hale felt the same way and so did many other 
honest men in both Congress and the Navy Depart- 
ment, but there was not much that could be done 
about it. Congress did the buying and the insiders 
knew how to slick their little jobs through the con- 


gressional committees and how to set up interference 
against the outsiders. Melville swore like a buck pri- 
vate in Flanders. 

"We'll take a look at your damned boat, anyhow," 
he said. "By God, they can't keep us from doing 

The Board of Construction of the United States 
Navy then consisted of Rear-Admirals Melville, 
O'Xeil, Bradford, Francis T. Bowles, and Captain 
Sigsbee. I found they knew pretty well what I had 
been doing. 

"Draw up some plans," growled Melville. "Let's 
see what you've got. Maybe we can circumvent those 
damned treasury-robbers." 

During the year 1900 I prepared plans for three 
types of submersibles. One was for a small boat which 
could be carried on the deck of a war-ship, the second 
for a coast-defense submersible not designed for use 
on the high seas, and the third for the type now 
known as the fleet submarine. I called this larger 
boat a submarine cruiser. The five members of the 
Board liked my plans and said frankly that no other 
had ever been proposed either at home or abroad 
that was in the same class. 

"But our hands are tied. We have no money. Con- 
gress has specified that the Holland-type boat be built 
and we have no authority to do anything on our own. 
If you have friends who are willing to risk tibteir 
money and will build a boat for us of the coast- 
defense type we will at least promise a fair trial. If 
it proves to be as good as we think it will be we will 


recommend its purchase. We believe that Congress 
will order its purchase on that recommendation/' 

By this time the Navy wanted submarines. The 
value of the new arm was no longer debatable. Cer- 
tain members of Congress were very active in urging 
that the Navy be given submarines. There was talk 
of building a fleet of fifty, and if I had been a cau- 
tious man I would have foreseen that this would 
mean plenty of canoodling around the congressional 
halls. I did not foresee very well, perhaps, but it soon 
became impossible to avoid seeing. In 1900 the 
methods of the lobby were neither subtle nor sur- 
reptitious and lobbyists were about as clandestine as 
bull elephants. 

A yacht named Josephine lay at anchor in the 
Potomac, and if reports could be trusted Josephine 
was a pretty loose lady. From the shore one could 
see lovely creatures floating about the deck, being 
served by Negro servants in white uniforms; terrapin 
and champagne and Congressmen seemed to be on 
the daily bill-of-fare. The ladies who made a habit of 
visiting the Josephine lived at the best hotels in 
Washington and some were said to move in the high- 
est social circles. Votes for the projects favored by 
Rear-Admiral Melville's "treasury-robbers" were se- 
cured by a combination of seduction, good fellow- 
ship, open purchase, and blackmail. Wives of many a 
prairie Congressman cried their eyes out while their 
husbands whooped it up on the Josephine. 

I say that I should have known better. I should 
have known when I was well off and had sense enough 


to stick to my knitting. But I knew that Hale and the 
members of the Board were honest men and they 
wanted to buy an honest boat for the Navy. I told 
Melville I did not know where I could get the money 
to build a boat. I had no money of my own. I could 
not at the moment think of any friend who had any 
to spare. But I would try. 

"Remember that the Navy hasn't any money and 
can't get any and that the lobby is running Con- 
gress," Melville would growl. "But for God's sake go 
ahead and build us a boat." 


Big Trouble Really Begins for the Lake 

K EAR-ADMIRAL MELVILLE shouted good-by 
to me in his best quarter-deck style when I 
left Washington for Bridgeport. 

"Mind you, we want a boat that will Do Some- 
thing, Damn It! The boats they are trying to make 
us take are no better than the pigeons that fly in 
the air." 

I began to learn the true meaning of trouble. 
When I tried to get money in the market I got no- 
where. Bankers did not want any part or parcel of 
what I offered. The Holland patents had been sold 
to the Electric Boat Company, and the Holland boats 
had been improved, beyond any question. Isaac L. 
Rice of New York was the president of the Electric 
Boat Company, and he was a pushing, ruthless, hard- 
finished millionaire. New Yorkers will remember him 
as the builder of the Noiseless House on Riverside 
Drive, which was an evidence of his originality, at 
least. In those days no one seemed to worry about 

Rice was doing his best to sell his boats to the 
Navy, via Congress. He was a business man and could 
see farther ahead than I could. Money has never 



seemed important to me, except when I haven't got 
It. It has helped me to put through things in which I 
have been interested, and it has given me good food 
and nice places in which to live, but the accumula- 
tion of money has never been my objective. Rice 
could see that if the Navy could be committed to a 
definite type of boat the builders would be certain 
of what would amount to a monopoly of a profitable 
business, provided, of course, that the boat was satis- 
factory. He was building with government money on 
a contract and he was a smart, a very smart business 
man. I was asked to build with my own money and 
run a risk of not selling. The only possible backers 
to whom I could appeal were the stockholders in the 
company that had built the Argonaut. They might 
get their money back if they put in more. I formed 
die Lake Torpedo Boat Company and asked them to 
come in. 

"I know we have the best boat'* was about all I 
could say. 

They did come in, and I built the Protectory a 
small boat designed for coast defense and only sixty- 
five feet long, on the city dock back of the gas-house 
on the Pequonniac River in Bridgeport. Nothing 
happened until I had gotten my money and building 
operations were well under way. Then a man calling 
himself Hall came to see me and talked vaguely about 
investing some money. 

"But I don't know much about submarines," he 
said. "Tell you what. I have a friend over in Brook- 
lyn I'd like to have take a look at this thing." 


"Bring him over." 

The friend was a sharp-faced, hard-boiled man who 
asked scores of questions and had the answers taken 
down by a stenographer. That meant nothing to me, 
except that I liked his businesslike methods. After a 
few days he came back. 

"I represent some business men who would like to 
buy your interest in this company." He was as hard 
and sharp as a knife. "I am not allowed to tell their 

I had control of the company and I did not pro- 
pose to sell it. My stockholders had put their money 
in solely because I asked them to do so. My caller 
said nothing about buying their stock. A few days 
later one of my directors came to me. 

"You wouldn't make a price for your stock the 
other day/' he said. "Simon, you're dead wrong. 
These people have been talking to me and I know 
you can get $300,000 spot cash for your stock. Don't 
you be a damn fool, Simon. You sell/' 

"No sale." 

My director was almost furiously interested in my 
welfare. He said that I was an idiot, and that if I did 
not sell he was through with me. He stomped through 
the yard swearing. 

"You've got a chance to make a good bunch of 
money, you infernal fool, and you turn it down 
I don't want to have anything more to do with you. 
If you don't sell they'll drive you out of business/' 

"Let 'em drive." 

Melville called me to Washington to appear before 


the Naval Affairs Committee of the House. The Navy 
wanted Congress to give it power to buy the boats 
it wanted and Congress was stubbornly holding onto 
its authority. I had to hang around Washington for 
several weeks before I got a hearing, but they were 
not wasted weeks. Uncle Joe Cannon and Oscar 
Underwood sat at my table at the hotel, and I almost 
forgot to eat in my interest in what they had to say. 
At last I was called to the witness-stand and put 
through a searching examination. 

"Some of the questions you are asking cannot be 
answered in the short time available. If you will let 
me come back to-morrow I'll have the plans and 

I was dreadfully worried about it. I was afraid that 
my failure as a witness might have cost the Lake 
Torpedo Boat Company the contract we were all 
after. It was not that I did not know the answers but 
that I had not been able to get them over clearly to 
the Congressmen, especially as they were firing new 
questions at me all the time. I thought to myself: 
"Congressman Lessler asked me more questions than 
any other man on the committee. I will go around 
and see him and inform him on all these points." 

I was as innocent of evil intent as an Easter rabbit, 
and I let myself in for the greatest humiliation I have 
ever suffered. I still shrink when I think of it. Those 
were the days of the goings-on on board the yacht 
Josephine, and now and then the papers hinted about 
the beautiful blonde and the Senator's curling 
whiskers and the bottles of bourbon on the tables 


and some of the Congressmen who did not go to the 
Josephine were getting very much irritated. So, also, 
were some of the Congressmen who did go to the 

Congressman Lessler lived at the Hotel Bellevue, 
not far from the White House. It was an old-fashioned 
place, with a wide stairway leading up from the small 
lobby and on one side a plush-stuffed, dim, and air- 
less room labeled, "Ladies' Waiting Room." 

The clerk asked me to go into this room and wait 
while the Negro bellboy found Congressman Lessler 
with my card. After a while Lessler came down the 
wide stairway with the effect of a big moment on the 
Fourth of July. In those days Congressmen dressed 
their parts, with wide black hats and embroidered 
vests and striped pants, and Lessler was a big man 
who could show off his sartorial investiture to good 
effect. Three or four steps from the bottom he paused, 
put his right hand on his left breast, pushed his hat 
back so that light could shine on his fine face, and 
asked in tones of thunder: 

"Where-are-you Mis ter Lake?" 

I came meekly out of the Ladies' Waiting Room, 
my papers under my arm, feeling a good deal like a 
caterpillar on a garden path. The Congressman looked 
down at me from his stance on the stairway. The men 
sitting around the lobby watched me. Mr. Lessler 
asked in a voice of doom: 

"Mis-ter Lake, what can I do for you?" 

"I thought I*d bring my drawings around to show 


you. I thought you would understand them better. If 
we could go somewhere" 

"Mr. Lake," said Mr. Lessler, in a voice that rang 
like a French horn, "I want you to understand some- 
thing about me. Mr. Lake, sir, I am trying to do my 
duty honestly. If the Navy Department recommends 
that we buy your boat, Mr. Lake, I shall vote for it. 
But I want you to understand this, Mr. Lake. You 
can't bribe me and you can't get me drunk, and by 
God,, Mr. Lake, you can't fool me with women." 

It was one of the most successful single acts ever 
put on. I have softened Mr. Lessler's words in defer- 
ence to the rules of good taste and also because no 
printed word could convey the sonorous majesty, the 
cold purity, the reverberating defiance of Mr. Less- 
ler's pronouncement I sneaked out of the Bellevue 
with my papers under my arm. There is a better word 
than "sneaked." It is "snuck." I snuck out. That was 
the last time I ever tried to perform as a salesman. 
From that moment people came to me to buy and I 
never went to them. A few days later, by the way, 
Lessler charged that Lemuel Eli Quigg of New York 
had offered him $5,000 for his vote to give the sub- 
marine building contract to the Electric Boat Com- 
pany. It was a first-page sensation for days but nothing 
much ever came of it. 

I did not get the contract I was after, but one day 
I had a call from Hiram Stevens Maxim, who was at 
that time a partner in Vickers* Sons & Maxim, the 
great British armaments firm. Maxim and I talked 
the same language of tools and calipers and we got 

I * 

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5 = 

5 g 

M >!H 



along bully. A few days later he came to see me again 
and we talked submarines. I had no secrets to hide 
and he was greatly interested. England had been 
dabbling at submarine-building but with no great 
conviction, although Maxim made it clear he thought 
there would ultimately be a change in policy. After 
he returned to London a man w r ho said he represented 
Vickers* Sons & Maxim called on me. 

"We would like to have you name a price for your 
holdings in the Lake Torpedo Boat Company." 

"Sorry. No price. I'm going to build a boat for the 
Navy Department and I won't sell." 

"You're a young man," my caller remarked, benevo- 
lently. "You have your way to make in the world. 
Of course you have a price. Anything I have is for 
sale if I get my price." 

"I wouldn't take less than a million dollars" think- 
ing I would scare him off. He didn't scare. 

"Will you take a million?" 


"I can't understand it." 

Now things began to happen by cyclones. The boat 
was being built at Bridgeport while I was daddling 
away in Washington, waiting for the committee to 
call me. One day I got a wire: "The Electric Boat 
Company has attached everything. They have men in 
possession at the dock and they have seized all our 

I got back to Bridgeport about midnight, half sick 
with worry. I found one deputy sheriff loafing on the 
unfinished boat and another asleep on a drawing- 


board in the office. Up to this time I had not known 
what it was all about. Now I discovered that I had 
been sued for half a million dollars on a charge of 
libel, the Electric Boat Company being the com- 

Some days previously I had prepared a letter to send 
out to my stockholders. We needed more money for 
construction purposes and I was appealing to them to 
stand for another assessment. In my effort to assure 
them of ultimate success I used a phrase something 
like this: "I have the authority of high officers of the 
Navy for the statement that the Lake boat is far su- 
perior to any other." 

I did not state the names of the officers concerned, 
but any one familiar with the situation could have 
guessed at them. Mr. Lebbeus B. Miller was then 
treasurer of the Lake Torpedo Boat Company and 
he objected to the letter when I read it at a directors' 

"I wouldn't send that letter out, Simon," said he. 
"It isn't wise." 

We did not send it out, but some spy turned a copy 
of it over to the Electric Boat Company, and they 
sued us. Under the laws of Connecticut an attachment 
may be secured before a suit is filed or a judgment 
declared. Samuel Fessenden was the attorney for the 
Electric Boat Company, and promptly tied our prop- 
erty up hard and fast. Judge Foster told me there was 
but one way in which I could get the company prop- 
erty released and go on building the boat. That was to 
put up a bond of $1,500,000, as required by law. 


*Tm done. I'm through. I cannot get such a bond." 
"Maybe you can. Let's go over and see Miller/* 
Lebbeus Miller was one of the most remarkable 
men I have ever known. He was Isaac Singer's con- 
fidential adviser right up to the day of Singer's death, 
and much of the success of the company was due to 
him. One day two young mechanics employed in the 
Singer plant came to him. 

"We have an idea for a water-tube boiler." 
"Let's see it." He examined it, liked it, and told 
them to go ahead with it. Inventors are apt to have 
troubles when they take their ideas to moneyed men, 
but Miller protected the two youngsters. They got 
a full half-interest in the Babcock and Wilcox Com- 
pany, which is to-day one of the great industrial in- 
stitutions of the country, while Miller and the other 
Singer Company officials who financed it took a 
smaller share. 

I did not know Mr. Miller very well at that time, 
and what slight acquaintance I had was probably due 
to the fact that I had employed his son as my attorney 
in certain patent matters. I am sure that he did not 
have much stock in the Lake Company a few thou- 
sand dollars, perhaps, but no more. I had no idea 
that he was a wealthy man. Judge Foster and I walked 
over to the Singer offices and told our story to Miller. 
"Oh," he said, mildly. "Oh. So they're trying to put 
us out of business." 

He turned to his safe, took out several bundles of 
important-looking papers, and stuck them in his coat 


"Come on over and well see the bonding com- 

Foster told the story while Mr. Miller and I sat 
and watched the eyes of the president of the bonding 
company. The president said he thought he might 
be able to get the bond reduced to 750,000, but he 
was not sure. Meanwhile Mr. Miller was willing to 
offer security to protect the company. 

'That is not necessary," said the president. "Your 
word alone is all that we ask.'* 

"I'd rather put up the securities/' said Mr. Miller. 
He unwrapped the stocks and bonds he took from 
his pocket. "You might as well keep them. Just give 
me a receipt." 

That bond was up for ten years before we could 
get it released, and in all that time we could not get 
into court for a trial. But we were not worried any 
more, for Mr. Miller's action gave us the semblance of 
financial stability we may have lacked before, and 
no one cared to attack us recklessly. 

The new boat worked beautifully after a few cor- 
rections had been made in her batteries. Young 
Lieutenant John Halligan had been sent by the Navy 
Department to watch the Protectors builders' trials 
and breaking-in runs, and he warmly approved her 
in his report. This, of course, had no bearing on the 
final purchase or rejection of the boat, any more than 
the laudatory article he wrote for the Naval Institute, 
the magazine of the service. 

Halligan had recently married a lovely girl. One 
day he came to me. "Good-by, Lake. I've just been 


ordered out of the country/' My recollection is that 
he was sent to the Argentine. Halligan was too well 
disciplined to say that the opposition's lobby had 
prevailed on the Department to send away one of our 
best friends, but others said it for him. The assign- 
ment to the Argentine was cancelled. The Protector 
was sent to Newport, where we hoped a Naval Board 
would watch her trials. Halligan was also ordered 
to Newport. Mrs. Halligan was running from place 
to place (as navy wives do, poor girls) to meet her 
husband for brief visits. He w r as tremendously pleased 
that he would be with her at Newport 

"Poor child/* he said. "I've hardly had a chance to 
bow to her during the last few months/' 

On the dock at Newport he was met by a per- 
emptory order directing him to leave at once for 
Cuba. He did not even have time to go on shore and 
say good-by to Mrs. Halligan. Years later I offered 
Halligan $10,000 a year to come with our company, 
but he would not: 

"I'm in the Navy," he said. "Some day 111 be an 
admiral." He was so conscientious that when he was 
with us on the Protector during the trial runs he in- 
sisted on paying for his meals. I'll venture to say that 
under Rear Admiral John Halligan, who died in 
1934, no young officer was ever given the heartbreak- 
ing treatment he had received at the instigation of 
the lobby not if he knew it. He was an honest fight- 
ing man. 


Russia Buys the Lake Submarines 

I'LL admit it was bad weather when the Naval 
Board reached Newport to give the Protector her 
trial run. The bay was full of ice and the wind was 
high and sailors who were used to sailing on the sea 
might well be forgiven for refusing to cruise under 
it. The steamer on which the Board sailed for New- 
port got stuck in the ice. 

Maybe it was a case of bad manners on our part. 
We did not so intend it. We only wanted to show the 
Board that the Protector could take it. We ran her 
out in the bay and in circles about the stuck-fast 
steamer and broke through some of the lighter ice. 
Then we tied alongside the dock, chesty as pigeons 
and sure that we had won our case in advance. The 
members of the Board glanced at us out of wind- 
swollen eyes when they disembarked. They merely 
said, "We will not undertake a trial in this kind of 
weather. We have decided to postpone it until 

Our hearts dropped. I mean they literally dropped. 
We had been so cocksure of winning approval. We 
were no longer unsophisticated, after our experiences 
in Washington, and we knew that a final desperate 
effort was being made to push through an appropria- 



tion for the exclusive building of the Holland boat. 
If the Protector had been given a trial under the 
worst conditions that could be imagined and had 
passed triumphantly, our cause would have been for- 
warded and that of the opposition retarded, for up to 
this time the Holland boat had never made a satis- 
factory showing. 

There was a nigger in the woodpile. We were all 
right in deep water, but it seemed we didn't have 
a chance in Washington. We had found out how 
things were done at the capital, and we would not do 
them that way; that is all that can be said about that. 

Then we had what seemed to be a streak of fat 
along with our streaks of lean. I went to William 
Howard Taft, then Secretary of War, and a man im- 
patient of anything that savored of skulduggery. The 
Army is charged with the duty of defending the coast, 
and it did not take anything of an argument to con- 
vince Taft that defense by submarine was at least 
worth looking into. He named a Board of three 
officers to make an investigation. They were Major 
Arthur Murray, who had been chief of the Coast 
Artillery Corps, and Captains Charles J. Bailey and 
Charles F. Parker of the Artillery Corps. 

We gave 'em the works. 

There was nothing that a submarine could do in 
those days that the Protector did not do. The ice was 
thick in Narragansett Bay, and we sent the Protector 
under it and broke lanes through it. We navigated 
along under the ice without difficulty and when we 
wanted to come to the surface we simply tilted her 


planes and she came up and broke through. We 
cooked a meal in her galley and opened the water- 
lock; we went through the motions of laying mines 
and cutting cables. In those days our motive power 
on the surface was gasoline motors, but our ventilat- 
ing system was so excellent that we could run 
semisubmerged for some time. Ten hours without 
discomfort was our record, I believe. 

When the Board completed its inquiry the mem- 
bers gave our boat a warm indorsement: "A valuable 
auxiliary to the fixed mine defense where channels 
cannot be mined it will give nearest approach to ab- 
solute protection can patrol a mined or unmined 
channel invisible to the enemy pick up cables great 
superiority in attacking mine fields effective use of 

The Board recommended the immediate purchase 
of five of the Lake boats, one to be used for experi- 
mental work in the Submarine School, and the others 
to be assigned to Long Island Sound, Chesapeake Bay, 
San Francisco Harbor, and Puget Sound. These rec- 
ommendations were indorsed by Secretary Taft and 
were embodied in a bill introduced in the Senate. 
I was distinctly on a spot. The Navy did not want 
the Army to get the Protector, for the rivalry between 
the two services was perhaps even livelier than it is 
now. Little more than a distant acquaintance was 
professed by the one service for the other in those 
days. The unseen influence which had operated to 
prevent a purchase of the Protector type by the Navy 
was still operating. The spot I was on was not only a 


spot, but It was a hot one. I was about out of money. 
My stockholders could not be appealed to again. 
Some of them might have responded, but others could 
not have raised another dime. 

The Senate discussed the bill for two days. 

"I never saw anything like it," Senator Platt of 
Connecticut told me later. 

Two members of the lower house had been work- 
ing openly as lobbyists on the floor of the Senate 
during this debate. They ran hotfoot up and down 
the aisles, carrying messages from the lobby chiefs in 
the cloak-room. They whispered and swore and 
pounded desks. So many notes were received and 
torn up during this debate by two or three of the 
Senators that the floor near their desks was literally 

"This is supposed to be a legislative body in which 
the members are self-respecting men," Platt added 

On the morning of the second day I had despaired 
completely. It seemed that no appropriation would 
be given the Army for the purchase of our boats and 
that the Lake Torpedo Boat Company was finally and 
conclusively sunk. Then I had an inspiration. I saw 
my friend James L. Norris, who had at one time been 
my patent attorney, and put the situation before him. 
Norris was a close friend and associate of United 
States Senator Gorman of Maryland, who had been 
showing signs of friendship for the Electric Boat 


"Won't you go and see Gorman?" I asked. "Ask 
him to let me talk to him." 

"I cannot do that," said Norris, "but 111 give you 
a letter." He wrote the letter and I panted off to 
Gorman 's office. 

"You cannot see the Senator/' his secretary said. 
"He is now in the inner office changing his clothes. 
He is about to go on the floor to make a speech," 

I've told elsewhere of how men dressed their parts 
in those days. One could almost recognize a sea- 
captain, Congressman, bartender, gambler, or alder- 
man by his clothes. Gorman was following tradition 
in making a careful toilet before going on the floor. 
I told the secretary that I did not want to intrude 
on these rites, but I did want the Senator to read the 
letter I had brought from Jim Norris, for I thought 
he would be interested. The clerk yielded under pro- 
test and presently Gorman's silver tones could be 
heard from what would have been a boudoir if it had 
been occupied by a lady: "Come in." 

He was pulling on his pants when I came through 
the door and was too busy to shake hands, but he was 
not too busy to shoot questions at me. "And talk fast. 
I'm due on the floor." 

I gave him both barrels. 

"Then 111 see what I can do for you, Mr. Lake." 
He marched through the door, majestic in high collar, 
black frock-coat, wide black hat, and striped trousers. 
This is said in no spirit of levity. Clothes have in- 
terested me less than almost anything in life, but I 
like to see men in high position look as though they 


really amounted to something, and not like any of the 
first forty men one sees on the street. On my way to 
the Senate gallery to listen to the debate, I met a 

"You're out of luck, Simon. Gorman's going to 
make a speech for the Electric Boat Company and 
against you." 

I was pretty low by the time I had found myself a 
seat and settled down to watch what might be the 
Lake Boat Company's last moment on earth. Gorman 
had intended to speak for the Electric Boat Company, 
but Nonis' letter plus the fervor with which I had 
put the other side of the case before him had changed 
his mind. It is possible that he had never been very 
firmly fixed in his position. He made a straight, work- 
manlike, well-fortified speech in favor of the Pro- 
tector, and the Senate passed the bill. But it was only 
half-way through Congress, for it had now to be sent 
to the House and the House had other ideas. Finally 
the conflicting bills were sent to a conference com- 

That is where the dirty work is done in Congress. 
Each House may pass a bill which neither has any 
intention of making into a law and both are dyna- 
mited in the conference committee. A friend sug- 
gested that I ask for a hearing by the conference 
committee and I went to the room in which it was 
to be held so that I might mull over the points I 
hoped to make. No one was in sight when I entered, 
but presently I heard men in high argument in the 
secretary's rooml 


"A lot of Goddamned thieves," one man shouted. 
I recognized the voice as that of a retired general who 
was a member of the House Naval Committee. "You 
men are being paid to keep us from buying the Lake 
boat. You know Goddamned well it is the best boat." 

Some one yelled back a denial. I recognized the 
voice as that of a manufacturer from an inland 
city, who had been in Congress several years: "No 
one bought us. But we'll not vote to buy the Lake 

The disputants became more profane and definite 
in their charges. I thought it would be a pretty good 
thing if Simon Lake got out of there, for the Congress- 
men might not be pleased if they knew the man who 
had most interest in the Lake boat had heard their 
quarrel. The following day I met the manufacturer 
on the street and he came up to me with hand out- 

'Tm terribly sorry, Mr. Lake, but the House con- 
ferees could not support the measure to buy your 
boat. I have been your friend in this throughout." 

The only reply I could have made was to call the 
man a liar and I did not want to do that. So I said 
nothing. It is still a pleasure to recall that he was 
arrested some time later for an offense against the gov- 
ernmentsmuggling, I think and was punished. But 
the harm had been done. Both the Army and Navy 
wanted my boat, as shown by their formal actions, but 
Congress would not buy. It had cost us a lot of money, 
my stockholders could not put up any more money, 
the Lake Torpedo Boat Company was in debt, and 


there is nothing as completely unsalable as a military 
submarine which no government wants. Only a faint 
glimmer of hope could be seen. 

The war between Russia and Japan was under way. 
Three Japanese officers had been on board the Pro- 
tector, and while they had not said a word it seemed 
to me that they had been impressed. The Russian 
military attache in Washington had been quite frank 
in his expression of admiration. "If the United States 
Government does not buy her I know one govern- 
ment that will." 

But that had no real weight with me. It was pleas- 
ing to know that two powers at war were interested, 
but what the Lake Torpedo Boat Company needed 
was money. The Mitsui Company of Japan I think 
it was the Mitsui Company had talked vaguely of 
building submarines under a royalty agreement. Then 
I overheard a conversation which was to have a 
definite influence, I think, on the military history of 
the world* I was walking through the corridor joining 
the House and Senate, accompanied by E. J. Hill, at 
that time a Congressman from Connecticut, who had 
warmly supported the Lake boat in the congressional 
debates, when we met Senator Albert J. Beveridge. 
Both Hill and Beveridge had recently returned from 
voyages around the world. Both said they had en- 
joyed themselves. 

"Where do your sympathies lie in the present con- 
flict?" asked Hill. 

"I favor Russia/' said Beveridge, "and for these 
reasons. It is a white nation against a yellow one, a 


Christian nation against pagans, and an honest peo- 
ple against a lot of damned crooks." 

"I feel the same way," said Hill. 

I had had no feeling of partisanship. When I had 
been asked by a man representing the Japanese Gov- 
ernment if I would consider a sale to Japan, since my 
chances of selling to my own people seemed to have 
gone glimmering, I said that I would. 

"Give me a price on two boats, then. The Protector 
Is now in commission and you will build another as 
rapidly as possible." 

"Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars each/* 

"111 let you know." 

I have never ceased to wonder at the fact that in 
times of war the belligerent parties seem to know all 
about each other's plans. The Japanese knew the Rus- 
sian attache had had trial runs in the Protector, and 
vice versa, although we had done our best to keep 
these experiences secret. It was the next day after 
I had put a price on two boats to Japan that I got a 
telegram from Charles R. Flint of New York. Flint 
had been called the Father of Trusts by the news- 
papers, he had been a diplomat, a banker, a promoter, 
and above all a dealer in munitions. 

"Will you take breakfast with me to-morrow at my 
house on Thirty-sixth Street, New York City?" 

I did not know much about Flint, but I did know 
that this was the equivalent of a royal command- 
more than a royal command would be nowadays, 
when kings and princes are going two-a-penny. The 


next morning I rang Flint's doorbell and a servant 
took me to him. He was a hard, likable, businesslike, 
straightforward man. Many people disliked him be- 
cause he was sometimes brusque and rather overpow- 
ering. I found him easy to get along with, for he put 
his cards on the table. 

"The Russian military attach^ will take breakfast 
with us," he said. 

That began to sound like money. I had taken a 
neutral stand as between the Russian and Japanese 
in their war, because I had something to sell, and be- 
cause it has never seemed to me to be good American 
citizenship to sound off about other people's troubles. 
But inside of me I was pro-Russian, beyond a doubt. 
That talk between Hill and Beveridge had subcon- 
sciously influenced me. The three of us talked 
submarine through the breakfast. I told them what 
I could do with the Protector and why it was possible 
to do it and how I found out how to do it and about 
my series of trials-and-errors. I was not trying to sell 
anything to either of them, but I was having a bully 
good time, talking about the thing that was my life. 

"You have an appointment to meet a Japanese 
officer at four o'clock to-day at the Waldorf, haven't 
you? He will have authority to close with you for two 

Every time anything like that happens I am as 
astonished as though it were the first time. I have 
never known how it is that the agents of one country 
can find out all about the plans of the agents of an- 


other country during a war. But they do find out. I 
am sure my Japanese friend had guarded himself, and 
I know that I did not say a word to any one, and that 
I was the only man in the Lake crowd that knew any- 
thing about that appointment. But there you are. 
Flint knew where and when we were to meet. He 
knew that I was not committed to the Japanese in 
any way. I had made them a price, but I was not 
bound to sell to them. 

"We'll have to work fast," said 'Flint. "I have an 
agent in Russia and if we get a move on we will sell 
to Russia by four o'clock. If we fail you can still 
have time to see your Japanese." 

Hart O. Berg was Flint's man in Russia and he 
knew his way about. Before noon we had closed a 
deal by cable, by which I was to deliver the Protector 
to Russia for 250,000, all expenses to be paid by the 
buyer, and 125,000 cash to be paid to me in advance. 
If the Protector made good on her trials I was to be 
given a contract to build five more boats in Russia 
for $250,000 each. I was as happy as a boy with a new 
gun. But Flint was first of all a merchant, and he did 
not propose to lose a possible customer. 

"Never leave any sore spots behind," he said. "If 
we left that Japanese captain to sit in his room think- 
ing bad thoughts about you we might find we had 
made trouble for ourselves. Have you got a visiting- 
card, Lake?" 

In those days I still carried cards. Flint turned the 
corner down and gave it to his secretary. 


"Go over to the Waldorf," he said, "and make cer- 
tain that the Japanese is not in his room. Then stick 
this card under the door. He will think it is his hard 
luck that he missed you." 

So I was embarked on my Russian adventure. 


Smuggling the Lake Boat Across the Sea 

HEAVEN had poured its richest blessings on me, 
I thought. I had actually sold the Protector, 
after having tried ineffectually to get my own people 
interested in her. I had a contract to build five other 
submarines if the Protector lived up to my promises, 
and I knew it would, and I had $125,000 in my pocket, 
or in the company's pocket, which was almost as good. 
Just a few days before the company was broke, I was 
out of money, and nothing could be seen ahead ex- 
cept trouble. J. P. Morgan and Company gave the 
money when I asked for it, and I walked on air. After 
a day or two of that I came back to the brickwork. 

"Russia will pay the bills/' said Flint, "but you'll 
have to work out a plan for delivering your sub- 
marine. It's contraband of war, you know, and even 
if it were as legal as peanuts it is not invisible, and 
the Japanese will try to interfere with you." 

He made no suggestions. No doubt he thought he 
had done his share when he made the sale for me, and 
I felt that he sat back in his chair and watched my 
flurries with an amused grin inside of him. The vice- 
president of my company was Foster M. Voorhees, of 
New Jersey, and his close friend was Benjamin F. 
Tracy, who had been Secretary of War. They told me 



that while the shipment of a completed submarine 
would be forbidden it might be possible to knock it 
down and ship it piecemeal, thus escaping the pro- 
hibition of the law. I had been wanting to make some 
changes in the Protector's batteries, and this seemed to 
be a good time to do it. I sent the batteries back to 
the makers for remodeling and so relieved the minds 
of any spies who might be watching. Then I began 
to scheme a way to get the hulk out of the country and 
on the seas. 

Spies and reporters, and I am not certain which 
were the more intelligent and persistent, dogged every 
step of any one connected with my company. This 
was not to be objected to, for news-gathering is a 
reputable profession, and a nation at war has every 
right to get information about the enemy's move- 
ments. Even if I had objected I could not have inter- 
fered with them. But they were a devilish nuisance* 
The reporters put me to bed every night and got me 
up every morning and strange men leaned against 
every lamp-post and sat on every fence. The funny 
part was that the spies were both Japanese and Rus- 
sian. Flint was an old hand at the game, and he had 
impressed on me that no one should be told about 
the deal with Russia. 

"You can't trust any one. Three of us know now 
and that's two too many. If you so much as look 
friendly at one of these Russian spies he'll trade with 
the Japanese and the Japanese will do the same thing. 
There's no loyalty in *em." 

Yet any one could guess that there was something in 


the wind and every one who was at all interested had 
guessed it. I was as much on show as though I were 
in a store window. I had failed in my effort to sell to 
the United States Government. Every one knew that, 
and yet I suddenly had money, the Lake Company 
was solvent again, and the workmen had been paid. 
The plain inference was that I had sold either to 
the Russians or the Japanese, for they were the only 
nations in the market for submarine goods. If that 
fact were publicly admitted the losing crowd would 
certainly interfere with any attempt to send the Pro- 
tector out of the country. One night 'Gene Adams, 
my brother-in-law, who knew that something was in 
the wind but did not know what it was, for I had 
not even told my wife, found himself followed by two 
sets of watchers. 

"It was a black, wet, blowy night," 'Gene told me 
later. "I got into New York and began dodging them. 
The last I could see of them the two sets seemed to be 
sneaking around after each other." 

I finally hit on a plan and enlisted Flint's aid in 
carrying it out. He chartered the steamer Fortuna, to 
carry a load of coal from Norfolk to Russia. At New- 
port I arranged to have timbers cut for a cradle to 
be set up on the Fortune? s deck, but told no one that 
the Protector was to be cradled. All our papers were 
in order, our names did not appear anywhere, Flint 
and I ostentatiously busied ourselves with other 
matters, and the spies and reporters chased other men 
who seemed to be given to suspicious movements. 
On the appointed day the Fortuna steamed out of 

g a 




Norfolk Harbor with four thousand tons o coal on 
board, and made for Newport. There the cradle tim- 
bers and a gang of ship's carpenters were rushed on 
board, and the cradle was thrown together. We gave 
the carpenters some kind of a satisfying explanation, 
but did not attempt to swear them to secrecy. An oath 
of silence would have opened every carpenter's mouth 
like a satchel. 

I went on board the Protector at Bridgeport, with 
reporters at my heels. They wanted to know what I 
proposed to do and I told them, as I told my own 
men, that I intended to give the boat a run under 
engine power only. It was so evident that a submarine 
without batteries would be useless from a military 
point of view that the reporters muffed the story. 
They talked to my men and satisfied themselves that 
nothing of importance was being planned, for the 
men had been told to take clothes for a week's cruise. 

"I have some things in mind to try out," I told 
them, "and you don't know what might happen. We 
might be out for a week." 

I had agreed to meet the Fortuna in Prince's Bay, 
near Sandy Hook, on a Saturday midnight. That time 
was selected because on Saturday the government 
offices are closed, most government officers are getting 
acquainted with their families, judges are week- 
ending in the country, lawyers are hard to find, and 
even reporters relax a little of their hellish energies 
and, with the Sunday paper out of the way, settle 
down to play poker in the city room. To make mat- 
ters better, a thick fog dropped over Bridgeport Har- 


bor, and I doubt i any one saw the Protector get 
away from her berth. We headed right across the 
Sound and I laid her up in a spot that was almost 
never visited and waited for night to come. No one 
could have seen us, for only a little of the conning- 
tower was showing above the water. When it came 
dark we started for Prince's Bay, 

There the big wrecking barge Monarchy owned by 
Merritt and Chapman, was lying at anchor waiting for 
us. Her job was to derrick the Protector into the 
cradle on the Fortunes deck. Merritt and Chapman 
knew nothing of what was going on, for they had en- 
gaged simply to lift a one hundred and thirty-ton boat 
to the deck of a steamer. I suppose I was somewhat 
oppressed by a feeling of guilt, even if reason told me 
I was breaking no law, for that big barge looked to 
me like a blatant advertisement of our affairs. We laid 
away from the Monarch while we waited for the ar- 
rival of the Fortuna, expecting at every minute that 
some one would come along and say, "Well, well, 
boys, and so you're going to take the Protector to 

And the Fortuna did not come. Nowadays the two- 
way radio would have cleared everything up in a 
jiffy, but then the only thing we could do was to sit 
on our tails and wait for something to happen. We 
were afraid the Fortuna had been held up by the 
Government and the Protector might be seized and 
we probably confessed to ourselves those of us who 
had been let into the secret that merely to take the 
batteries out of the boat was a pretty thin foundation 


for a claim that she was not contraband. I sat in the 
Protectors conning-tower for hours, my head sticking 
out like a turtle, unable to break down and tell all 
even to the trusted men who made up my crew. 

At eight o'clock my heart began to thump. The 
slow beat of the Fortunes engines could be heard as 
she shoved into Prince's Bay. Some miserable little 
thing had detained her, and no one except us worried 
about it. No one on the Fortuna thought that a few 
hours, more or less, would make any difference, for no 
one on board knew what we were planning to do. It 
had been a perfectly kept secret. 

When the Fortuna had finally made fast to the 
Monarch (and to me, peeping out of the conning- 
tower across the bay, that operation seemed to take 
forever), I had the engines started and we moved 
toward the two steamers. By this time the waters 
were glittering in the morning sun, small boats could 
be seen everywhere, all the fishermen along the coast 
were getting out their tackle, and our chances for 
escaping observation seemed to have dropped to about 
one million to one. But luck was with us. Long be- 
fore the sharpest-eyed fisherman on the bay could 
have seen our conning-tower a rain began to fall and 
before long it turned into the hardest downpour I 
have ever known. It rained not by buckets but by 
tubs. I could not see the ship's length, and when we 
finally inched our way alongside the Fortuna and the 
Monarch had dropped her chains over the Protectors 
hull and set her big derrick groaning I felt as though 
my life had been shortened by years. Inside of an 


hour the Protector was safe in her cradle, and the 
Fortuna was on her way. 

My men had guessed, of course, that something was 
up, but they did not know precisely what it was. Be- 
fore the Fortuna steamed out of the bay I called them 
together. Even yet I could not be precise in giving 
them information, for I could not tell what might 

"The Protector has been sold and is on the way to 
be delivered to the new owner. I cannot tell you who 
bought her or where we are bound for, but I would 
like to have some of you go with me. Who will volun- 

I am proud to this day that every one of them de- 
clared to go along. Candor compels me to admit that 
I do not know just what a man could have done who 
refused to volunteer. He might have had to go just 
the same, for we could not have permitted him to go 
back to the shore. The adventure had some of the 
aspects of a kidnapping, but not one of the men ever 
regretted it. Some of them did not get back home for 
seven years. 

Meanwhile, the reporters who had been assigned to 
watch the Protector, and the Japanese and Russian 
spies who had been told off to follow me, had learned 
that the boat had disappeared. Every newspaper had 
a first page head-line: "What has become of the 

We were not beaten down by the tremendous vol- 
ume of news then as we are now. The flight of the 
Protector became a world sensation. The first news 


of her was brought to New York by the captain of the 
steamer Princess Gecile, who reported that die For- 
tuna had not replied to his signals, and that he had 
observed a bulky object on her foredeck shrouded in 
tarpaulins, which he thought might be the missing 
submarine. I had returned to Bridgeport from 
Prince's Bay in order to avert suspicion, if possible, 
and stayed there for several days. Then I shipped for 
Cherbourg on the old Kaiser Wilhelm II, known to 
sailors as Billy the Roller, intending to go to Russia 
overland from France. 

Landing at Cherbourg I went on to Paris to talk 
with the Russian ambassador; at his suggestion I 
changed my name to Elwood Simon and was given a 
Russian passport. The Simon was kept In for con- 
venience' sake, the idea being that although I could 
not speak a foreign language I could at least recognize 
my own name in one. But this idea was sour, for 
Simon became See-mon on the foreign tongues, and 
in Russia I was always addressed as Gospodin, That's 
the Russian way of saying "Mister" with a flourish. 

I was instructed to go straight to Libau to meet my 
boat. The Fortuna had been having its own adven- 
tures. On the voyage through the Baltic the coverings 
had been taken off the Protectory so that my men 
could do some work on her, and she stood revealed as 
a submarine. A Russian destroyer on patrol sighted 
the Fortuna with her incriminating deckload and one 
of the officers recognized the Protector from a picture 
he had seen. The Fortuna steamed stolidly on when 
the destroyer hailed her, and the little war-ship 


wheeled away at full speed to get instructions. Pres- 
ently she returned with another destroyer and a gun- 
boat as reinforcements and this time a solid shot was 
put across her bow. When she again refused to stop 
another shot was put dangerously near. The For- 
tuna's engines were halted and the Russians boarded: 

"Where are you going?" 


"We don't believe you. We think this submarine is 
being shipped to Japan. In any case you're going to 
Kronstadt and we'll escort you in and don't try any- 
thing on the way." 

A prize crew was put on board and, with the de- 
stroyers and a gunboat on her flanks, she moved in to 
Kronstadt. On arriving at Libau I learned these 
things, and also that the Fortuna was to be taken to 
the military port of St. Petersburg, or Leningrad as 
it is now named. So I went on to Kronstadt and on 
board the Fortuna to enjoy a formal luncheon in our 
honor. As we entered Kronstadt Harbor men lined 
the narrow decks of the Russian-built submarine Del- 
fino and saluted us. Among the guests at the luncheon 
were Captain Becklemechief and Chief Constructor 
Bubonoff, the joint designers of the Delfino. 

"We are training a crew on her," they told us 
Captain Becklemechief and Constructor Bubonoff 
both spoke English as do all Russian Naval officers, 
"and as rapidly as they are fit we will transfer them to 
the Protector for further teaching. By the time you 
have your other boats in the water we will be ready 
to take them over." 


That -was a brisk way of doing business and I con- 
gratulated them. While we were chatting a telegram 
was handed to Becklemechief which seemed to give 
him some concern. After a moment he handed it to 
Bubonoff and the man turned pale. One of them said 
something to me in Russian. 

"Sorry, but I don't understand." 

The interpreter spoke up: "These gentlemen have 
just received the news that this morning the Delftno 
sank at her dock with thirty-five men on board." 


Gospodin Simon Delivers the Goods 

OSPODIN SIMON felt something clutch at his 
YJT bowels when he heard of the tragedy of the 
Delfino. I am too old now to bother with any pre- 
tense. The first thought in my mind was a purely 
selfish one, for I did not know how it might affect my 
prospects. Here I was in Russia, with no word of the 
language, no intercessor except Hart O. Berg, Flint's 
partner, with an American submarine sold to the 
Government, and exposed to the usual and common- 
place jealousies and interferences the foreigner must 
always encounter when he does business. These 
thoughts scampered through my mind in the split 
part of a second, and then I reverted to the profes- 
sional type: "What happened?" 

"We'll find out," said Bubonoff. 

It is not that we were heartless. The reported loss 
of thirty-five good men horrified us, but after all we 
were submarine engineers and it was of vital im- 
portance to all of us that we discover what had gone 
wrong. I should say at this point that the loss of the 
Delfino never affected my relations with the Russians 
in the slightest. They impressed me as a lovable, 
kindly, and fair-minded people, but with a broad 
streak of childlikeness running through their natures. 



I do not mean childishness but child! ikeness. They 
might act on the impulse of the moment, but they 
were always generous and kind. I'll have more to say 
of them later. 

At the dock by the side of which the Delfino had 
sunk we learned that the loss of life was not as great 
as we had feared. Twenty-three men had been 
drowned; three of the men who escaped later be- 
came members of our crew on the Protector. The 
Delfino was lost because of the peculiarly Russian 
trait of failing to think ahead. It seemed to me that as 
a people they are inclined to leap before they look. 

The regular crew of the Delfino consisted of eight 
men. Her buoyancy tanks were necessarily filled with 
water almost to the limit in order to submerge with 
only eight on board. On this occasion her flotation 
power was reduced by the addition of twenty-seven 
men to the load, but no one thought of that when 
the water was let in. The conning-tower hatch was 
operated by a nut-and-screw mechanism, and when 
the officer in charge ordered her submerged the water 
was let into the tanks coincidentally with the closing 
of the hatch. A passing steamer threw up a wave 
which splashed into the partly open hatch and one of 
the untrained men lost his head: 

"Save yourselves!" he cried. He got his head and 
one shoulder out of the hatch and then stuck fast. 
The man operating the nut-and-screw mechanism 
could neither close the top nor open it far enough 
for the man to escape, and the water poured in. One 
man gave a remarkable exhibition of courage and 


cool-headedness. In some way he managed either to 
pull in or thrust out the man who had been stuck in 
the hatch and even as the boat sank he opened the 
hatch cover. The confined air rushed out with a roar 
as the water-pressure increased and swept twelve men 
to safety. 

Captain Tillian, who afterward joined the Pro- 
tector's crew, told me that the only thing he could 
remember was that he was standing in the after run- 
way, up to his waist in water, when a sailor spoke to 
him. "Good-by, Captain. Will you let me kiss you 

He remembered the feeling of the man's lips against 
his cheek and nothing more. He was carried the 
length of the ship by the force of the compressed air 
and the next thing he knew he was returning to con- 
sciousness on the dock. 

The Fortuna with the Protector aboard had been 
laid alongside a dock in Kronstadt and a big derrick 
was brought up to lift the submarine into the water. 
The man in charge was stubbornly opinionated, and 
seemed to resent the intrusion of a foreigner into his 
affairs. He refused to listen to me when I objected 
that the chains he had put around the Protectors 
body were too light for the lift. The boat weighed 
one hundred and thirty tons, even without her bat- 

"They will break and the Protector will crash 
through the Fortunes deck." 


One of his superior officers came up and learned 


that we were in dispute. He did not interfere, for it is 
a dangerous thing to overrule one of your own men 
on the word of a stranger. But I turned to the inter- 
preter: "If he's bound to use those light chains, tell 
him for God's sake to go slow and easy." 

Power was turned on and the Protector began to 
sway up. She was perhaps two feet above the deck 
when the chains parted and she crashed back into her 
cradle. No harm had been done, but the command- 
ing officer told that derrick boss plenty. 

"After this do what Gospodin Simon orders." 

Thereafter I was obeyed to the letter at all times, 
allowance being made for human frailty. Discipline 
was rigid in Russia in those daysa trifle inhuman, 
perhaps. On one occasion I was making a submergence 
test and as the weather was bad I arranged to go out 
to sea, where we could get enough depth for safe 
maneuvering. As a matter of caution I asked that a 
sea-going tender be sent with us. A storm blew up 
and I could see through the periscope that the tender 
was making very heavy weather. Then we submerged 
and stayed under about fifteen minutes. I was so much 
interested that we made several more descents and I 
forgot all about the tender. 

At last we had had enough of it, especially as our 
batteries were about discharged, and headed for the 
home port. The first of the winter's storms was in 
full blast and a day or two later the port was closed to 
navigation. We expected the tender to lead us into 
the harbor, but nothing could be seen of her, and we 
had to feel our way in by using the lead. We did 


sight one of the light-ships at the entrance of the har- 
bor for a moment, and then the sleet and rain cut 
off our view. When we at last made fast to the dock 
we found the port commandant and other officers 
waiting for us in high excitement. 

"The officers and men of the tender which should 
have escorted you are under arrest, Gospodin. If you 
wish I shall have them sent to Siberia." 

"Please do nothing of the kind. Release them with 
my compliments." 

The explanation was that the tender had lost sight 
of us because of our submerging and the storm had 
grown so furious that the captain feared he would 
lose his vessel if he did not run for port. As it was she 
lost everything loose on board. I did not blame him 
and ultimately got the port commandant to accept 
my view, but for a time he was adamant. The tender, 
he said, had been sent to escort us, and should have 
stayed with us no matter what the weather might be. 
That kind of discipline makes for absolute obedience, 
but it does not encourage men to think for them- 

Once a stupid man in charge of gasoline-loading 
operations overflowed a tank in one of the Russian 
submarines. This was observed by a muzhik at work 
sweeping the dock. An explosion took place, several 
men were badly burned, and an inquiry was ordered. 
One witness was the muzhik. He said that he had no- 
ticed that the gasoline tank had been overflowed and 
that loose gasoline was in the body of the boat, and 


admitted that he knew that a spark might cause an 

"Then why didn't you give the alarm?" 

"It was none of my business. I have been taught 
to mind my business. That is to sweep the dock." 

I almost lost my life, the lives of several high- 
ranking officers, and the Protector because Russian 
discipline was in use only in the ranks. Soldiers and 
sailors could be made into automatons but officers 
were permitted to make fools of themselves. One of 
the trial conditions was that we should run the Pro- 
lector under her engine with her decks submerged 
and her conning-tower awash. We were in the Gulf of 
Finland, and I was standing in the open hatch with 
the Protector running under these conditions. She was 
ready for instant submergence, and the conning-tower 
-was held above the water by setting her hydroplanes 
down. By closing the hatch cover and setting the 
planes the vessel could be submerged in fifteen sec- 
onds. I had so much confidence in her stability that 
I had no hesitation in leaving the depth-controlling 
levers for considerable periods. We ran through a 
school of small fish, and I indicated to the officer at 
my side that I was going out on the conning-tower to 
look at them. 

There were about three feet of water over her decks 
and the top of the tower was not more than eighteen 
inches from the surface. All at once the boat began 
to go down. I made one frantic leap into the conning- 
tower, pulling the hatch cover after me, and as I 
landed on my feet I heard the water ripple over the 


top of the tower. I I had been a single second slower 
the water would have poured in and the craft would 
have gone down with all hands. I had not had time 
to get my breath when I saw that the senior officer 
was shaking with laughter. He was a very tall man, so 
that he had to bow his shoulders to stand in the 

"A good joke on~Gospodin Simon/' he gasped, 
wiping the tears out of his eyes. 

He had set the hydroplanes a little lower in order 
to frighten me, in which effort his success was com- 
plete. I had always said that neither a submarine nor 
anything else in this world can be made safe against 
carelessness or folly, and this confirmed me in the 
belief. Forever after, I took care that all controls 
should be guarded against practical jokers and other 
congenital idiots. Nothing could be done about it 
with this highly placed jackass who almost drowned 
us in the Gulf of Finland, although if he had been a 
muzhik or a sailor he could, and almost certainly 
would, have been sent to the salt-mines. As I was en- 
gaged in selling my boats I could not even swear at 
him. All I could do was to wipe my forehead and 
smile a sickly smile. He later became a high admiral 
of the fleet. 

The batteries which I had sent to the factory before 
sailing from Prince's Bay managed to get thoroughly 
lost and it was three months before we could find 
them. At last they came and I was ready for my 
official trial. The Protector had as competitors a Hol- 
land boat, the Fulton, from the United States, and a 


French and a German submarine, the latter from the 
Krupp shops. The Holland boat refused to run after 
trials at the place selected, the Krupp boat -would not 
function, and the French boat failed. The Protector 
made good, and the Russian Government confirmed 
the order for five more like her. It was during this 
series of trials that I ran into the military harbor of 
Libau on wheels, as I have previously told. After this 
operation one of the senior officers of the Russian 
Navy said, "Gospodin Simon, if I were in command 
of a fleet and knew that you and your boat were in 
the vicinity I would up-hook and steam away ve-ry 
fast, Gospodin." 


Course of Naval History Almost Changed 

rr^HE naval history of the world might have been 
JL changed by me while I was in Russia. I say 
"might have been." There is at least the probability 
that it would have been. 

It was not changed because the Lake family was 
incurably moral. 

Mrs. Lake and I had behind us generations of 
God-fearing and law-abiding people. We had with us 
our three children. Before our eyes was the bad 
example of the most profligate society in recent his- 
tory. I love the Russians for many things, but those 
we were able to observe were as lacking in morals 
as so many mice. They were not a wicked people, nor 
mean nor vicious. They were simply unmoral from 
the point of view of the New Jersey Lakes. 

Grand dukes did not hesitate to flaunt their mis- 
tresses before the public. So far as we could observe 
the public did not care. They appeared with their 
women at the theaters as nonchalantly as though 
they were wives. The public seemed to feel that four 
grand dukes plus four loose women in Worth gowns 
and Carrier tiaras made a box at the opera practically 
perfect. If there was a hint of criticism I never caught 
it. I remember that one night at the opera, in what 


-was then St. Petersburg, a grand duke, a cousin of 
the Czar, and his belle amie were having a dreadful 
racket in the lobby. My companion was an American 
correspondent who understood Russian. 

"And was she giving him hell!" said he. 

The regulations governing the marriage of officers 
of the Army and Navy were very strict, and in con- 
sequence many officers entered into irregular al- 
liances. These were accepted in the most matter-of- 
fact way by all concerned. On one occasion I called 
at the home of an officer of high naval rank. 

"I want you to see my children," he said proudly. 

Three of the finest youngsters I've ever seen were 
called in. They were evidently as fond of their father 
as he was of them. Later in the evening I met their 
mother, a handsome, intelligent woman, and in some 
way we got to discussing the tie that bound them. 

"He wants me to marry him/' she said, "for he is 
in a position now to defy the restrictions. But of 
course I will not." 

The romantic American thought that she was a 
woman who would sacrifice herself rather than run 
the risk of injuring the man she loved, but that was 
not the idea at all. When I finally got my quaint 
thought over to her she was rather angry. 

"If I married him I would put myself in his power. 
Why, do you know that if I were his wife he could 
do anything he wished put me in the kitchen if he 
wanted to and bring another woman here to take 
my place. Of course I will not marry him." 

These deflections from the course of strict morality 


were not confined to the higher nobility, but seemed 
to be characteristic of the Russian scene. I often 
found advertisements in the newspapers in which 
fathers offered to sell their beautiful daughters to 
the highest bidder. The proffer was not stated in 
precisely those terms, but it came to the same thing: 
"Beautiful girl, just turned eighteen, well educated, 
sings divinely, a graceful dancer, intelligent, good- 
tempered, entertaining. For particulars address So- 

On one occasion I was visiting at the home of 
Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovitch, with whom I 
was talking business. He stepped to the window and 
waved to some one in the house on the other side of 
the little paved area. 

"Come over here, Gospodin Simon, and see the 
three daughters of the Czar." 

This was at Peterhof, where the Czar had his sum- 
mer home. Directly the Grand Duke and the children 
began to throw kisses at each other. He said to me, 
"Throw a kiss at them/' 

I did so and they responded with great glee, just 
as any other little girls might do. They seemed to 
range in age from about six to twelve years. At last 
an old lady came into their room, saw what was going 
on, and snapped down the window-shade. I said to 
myself, "You poor kids." 

Even to my unaccustomed eye there were indica- 
tions of unrest in Russia, but if some one had told 
me that the three little girls to whom I had been 
throwing kisses would be murdered in a cellar with 


their father the Czar and their brother the heir ap- 
parent to the crown I would have thought him mad. 

What we of Puritanical descent consider unmoral 
not to put too fine a point on it is often condoned 
in Europe for reasons of state or the maintenance of 
estates, and in the higher social circles state mar- 
riages are sometimes forced on the parties to the con- 
tract. The natural consequence is that they some- 
times seek more congenial companionship. 

I spent seven months in Russia on my first trip, 
and when I returned I wanted Mrs. Lake to accom- 
pany me. She did not want to leave our children but 
a translation of some of the advertisements I had of 
beautiful and talented girls for sale changed her 
mind. I told her among other things of a conversation 
with a petty officer on board the Protector. 

"Gospodin," said he, "I have a very lovely wife. 
She is not only beautiful, but she has a sweet temper 
and is talented. I would like to sell her to you, Gos- 
podin, so that you can take her to America with 

"How much?" 

"Only fifteen rubles, Gospodin." That was, at that 
time, about seven and a half dollars. "Surely that's 
cheap enough, Gospodin. You could not get another 
girl like her for so little money." 

"Don't you love her?" 

"As my life, Gospodin. With all my heart. She is 
the treasure of my soul." 

The puritan in Simon Lake began to stir himself. 
No doubt I glared at him. Here, I said to myself, 


is a contemptible dog who would sell his wife for a 
little drink money. But I was to take a different view 
before the talk was finished, and I think that the 
reader will agree that in the seaman's offer to sell 
his wife a clue is to be found to the reasons why a 
blood torrent swept through Russia not many years 

"I love her so dearly, Gospodin, that I could die 
for her. But I think that you are a kind man, and if 
you buy her and take her with you to America she 
will be safe and happy there. When I have finished 
my three years in the Navy perhaps I can get away 
to America and maybe you will sell her back to me." 

When I told Mrs. Lake this story she decided to 
pack her trunks and go with me to Russia. 

We built the five submarines of the Protector type 
and several others of the large cruising type for the 
Russians during the war with Japan, although the 
Protector was the only one to be delivered in time 
to be of actual service. She was stationed in the har- 
bor at Vladivostok and it was said at the time that 
only her presence kept the Japanese from an attack. 
After the war I was informed that the Russians pro- 
posed to scrap their entire fleet of surface vessels and 
build a defensive navy consisting entirely of subma- 

"We will turn over to you our new ship-building 
plant at Reval," (now Talinn) said an official spokes- 
man, "furnish you a working capital of fifty million 
rubles, and guarantee you a handsome profit on a 
royalty basis/' 


The explanation is not only that they were satis- 
fied with the performance of our submarines, but 
that the Russians are not a warlike people. The war 
with Japan had been intensely unpopular. The story 
was widely believed, and may have been true, that 
it was brought about through the machinations of 
the mistress of one of the grand dukes, because her 
man was in a position to make enormous graft by 
manipulating war orders. The fall of Mukden was 
hailed by a great popular demonstration. In the re- 
bound from the war the Russians believed, and I be- 
lieved with them, that a submarine navy could make 
their ports impregnable. Their only thought was to 
make certain of their defense. A war of aggression 
was not even conceivable to them. 

Suppose I had accepted their offer? 

The submarine weapon was then in its infancy. 
The Lake boats were years in advance of the rest 
of the world. With a fine, up-to-date, ship-building 
plant at my disposition, freedom to go ahead and 
experiment at will, and with all the money in the 
world at my disposal, after a manner of speaking, the 
Russian submarine navy could have been made into 
an unbeatable arm before any other nation had even 
awakened to what was going on. No surface fleet will 
ever dare meet a submarine fleet of the same relative 
size, cost and man-power being considered. This is a 
fact which must be self-evident. 

A sufficiently large charge of high explosive det- 
onated under the keel of even the greatest battle- 
ship will break its back. There is no reasonable limit 


to the size of such a charge. A battleship is helpless 
to evade a completely modern submarine, because a 
submarine can be built which will move submerged 
without making any noise whatever to be picked up 
by the ship's hearing devices. The battleship would 
have but two chances of safety. One would be to hide 
in mined and netted harbors, as the fleets did during 
the World War, and so become merely a houseboat 
for handsome admirals to live on. Or else such a ship 
must be built so solidly of steel that she could be no 
more successfully navigated than a flat-iron. But we 
did not build a submarine navy for the Russians. 

The Lakes had reached the point of rebelling 
against the simple immoralities of their very pleasant 
hosts. They had three children to think about. The 
state of Connecticut may be a trifle short on palaces, 
caviar, and champagne, and the grand dukes are apt 
to be doormen at restaurants, but it is a good deal 
better place in which to bring up children. We de- 
cided to go home by way of Berlin. Thanks to the 
success of the Lake boats in Russia I had been able 
to build up an European organization, and in the 
six or seven years I spent on the continent we pretty 
well established ourselves in Russia, Germany, Italy, 
Austria, and England. After I opened our plant in 
the United States the round trip of inspection in- 
volved traveling about seventeen thousand miles. 

I am somewhat puzzled by the reports of the ap- 
parent ineptitude of the Russians in dealing with 
mechanical matters. I found them excellent me- 
chanics, for the most part, and in some things they 


were way ahead of us. Once I needed to have a 
bronze sleeve made to fit over a reversible propeller. 
This reversible propeller was one of my patents, and 
I was the first to make use of it on a large boat. I 
knew I could not get the sleeve I needed from the 
United States in time to do me any good, I might 
never be able to get it from England, and yet the 
fact remained that I had to have it right away. The 
manager of a Russian foundry said, "Let me make it 
for you, Gospodin Simon." 

I thought he was talking through his hat, but I was 
willing to listen. 

"Ill have it for you at four o'clock to-morrow 

I knew that was nonsense, even if he did not. The 
best American maker might not be able to make that 
sleeve in less than two or three weeks. But he put his 
experts to work overnight and the sleeve was ready 
for me in the morning, a perfect piece. They could 
cast steel as we could not then, and I do not know 
that we could do as well now. I have seen cast 
steel go under the planer and a shaving turned off 
one-eighth of an inch thick, one-quarter of an inch 
wide, and as long as you wanted it. There has never 
been any doubt in my mind that if we had accepted 
that Russian offer we could have outbuilt the world 
in submarines. Their workmen were all right, but 
their morals were too uncertain for the Lake family. 

It was during this stay in Russia that I missed get- 
ting on board the newly invented airplane, to be a 
bit metaphorical. The Wright brothers were then 


hard at work on their first plane. There has never 
been another built that has equaled that first Wright 
plane in efficiency per pound and horse-power. The 
American Government had refused to listen to them, 
just as it had refused to listen to me, just as it has 
always refused to listen to men with ideas. My recol- 
lection is that the Wrights had not yet made their 
first flight at Kittyhawk, but they had drawn their 
plans, and when the Government refused to listen 
they tried Charles R. Flint. That gray old adven- 
turer's eyes were always open, for he had never been 
tied up in red tape or dulled by the air in govern- 
ment offices. He sent the papers on to Hart O. Berg, 
his representative in Russia. "If this thing is any 
good I can get the European rights/' Flint had writ- 

My offices were in the Berg establishment at that 
time. Berg was engaged to marry a young American 
lady and he had a dinner date that evening. While 
he could put off the papers he could not safely delay 
the date, so he put the drawings on my table. 

"I wish you'd look this stuff over," he said. "I don't 
know anything about it. Besides that, I'm busy." 

I worked over the Wright papers all night long. 
When Berg came into the office in the morning I was 
still there. "If I were you I'd wire Flint to take the 
European rights. These young fellows have some- 

I might have had a share of it, but I did not. I had 
the money at that time, too. Flint and the Wright 
brothers cost me a million dollars and the best agent 


a man ever had, for Berg grew so interested in the 
flying-machine that he almost forgot my contrap- 
tions. There was a funny side issue to this Wright 
affair sometime later. In 1899 we had an office at 
No. 1 1 Broadway, with my father in charge. One day 
my eye caught this advertisement in the old New 
York Tribune: "I have invented a flying-machine 
that will fly. Those interested address J. C. Lake, 
11 Broadway." 

I said to my father: "You're over twenty-one and 
can do as you please, but you must remember this. 
People think I am crazy because I say I can travel 
under water, but my submarines will work. If an- 
other Lake offers a machine that will fly they'll think 
we're all crazy." 

"I guess you're right," father replied. *T11 drop it." 
When Berg took the Wright representation in 
Europe I cabled father releasing him from his prom- 
ise. Of course I did not tell him what I had just 
learned, but it seemed to me only fair that he should 
at least be able to begin again on the work I had 
stopped years before. He did not do so, but he did 
build one of the first airdromes in the United States, 
near our home at Bridgeport. As I write this I am 
reminded that he is now ninety years old and still 
going strong. 


Inventor Is Gypped by the Germans 

FOR the sake of emphasis I shall use a Sunday 
Supplement sentence. It is intentionally flam- 
boyant and egotistic. Yet it is essentially true. Here 
it is: 

I might have been the World Master of Subma- 
rines. But I muffed my chance. 

I blush when I reread that statement. But the fact 
is that in Berlin I was offered a post by the Krupps 
which would have involved my building or rebuild- 
ing the submarine navies of all Europe. The Lake 
submarine would be used by all the European na- 
tionsGermany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Austria, 
Russia either in original form or in adaptations. 
Only my own country and Japan would not share 
in this. 

Any one who has ever had anything to do with 
inventors will have noted one thing. An invention is 
rarely perfected to the liking of its author. He always 
has a little bit of business here, a little bit of business 
there, as the song tells of the old lady on the village 
square. He cannot go near it that he does not see 
the possibility of adding a gearing here or stepping 
up on the power. If I had accepted the offer of the 
Krupps I would have been engaged in turning out a 


submarine which would have been a distinct advance 
upon its predecessors. Lord knows what might have 
been the upshot. To-day's surface-skimming navies 
might have been outmoded. The outbreak of the 
World War might have been hastened. It might have 
been made altogether impossible. Any one's guess is 

The Lake Company built eleven submarines in all 
for Russia, and others were subsequently built by 
Russia of the Lake type. Then we moved to Berlin, 
primarily because Mrs. Lake and I feared the effect of 
the Moscovite morals on our three children, and I 
opened an office there. The Krupps had had various 
European contracts for building submarines but they 
had had also a good deal of bad luck. The boat- 
builders of the world had not yet accepted my prin- 
ciple of submersion as opposed to diving, and the 
consequence was that other submarines "porpoised/* 
as they called it. They leaped out of the water and 
dived back into it after the fashion of a flying fish. 
One of the Krupps' boats stuck itself forty feet deep 
in the mud of Kiel Harbor, and a battleship was 
called to pull her out. 

I built the first two submarines Austria ever owned, 
and had a contract by which I was to have been paid 
royalties on others which were to be built in the 
national shipyards. Other countries were interested. 
Russia wanted me to build her a submarine fleet. 
Business prospects were good everywhere. One of 
the German princes invited me to visit the yards at 
Kiel and the works at Essen as his guest and shortly 


afterward I made a contract with Krupps on a royalty 
basis. As I remember it I was to be paid 6 per cent on 
German business, 71^ per cent on Italian business, 12 
per cent of the Russian, and 400,000 marks a year as 
consulting engineer. I turned over my plans to the 
Germans and a contract was initialed along the terms 
I have stated. 

I should have signed that contract. Instead of do- 
ing so I sent it to the United States to put it before 
my Board of Directors. For various reasons they de- 
clined to accept it. I had a nervous breakdown in 
consequence and was sick for five months. 

The fat was in the fire when I returned to Europe 
from the United States. I was like the average in- 
ventor in one respect. I never had enough money to 
protect myself. I had not registered my patents in 
Germany, and during my absence the Germans dis- 
covered this fact. When I came back they were some- 
what apologetic I state this to their credit but they 
were quite firm. 

"We have your plans," they told me, "and you have 
no patent protection. Therefore we shall build the 
Lake-type boats for ourselves." 

There was nothing I could do about it. My Euro- 
pean business began to fade out. Italy paid me 
$50,000 for a three-day conference during which I 
told her experts what was wrong with six new sub- 
marines, and there was some little profit-making busi- 
ness with Austria, but submarine manufacturing in 
Europe seemed to be through as far as I was con- 
cerned. I had had a contract with Russia which the 


Krupps had been willing to take over, but the first 
signs of the Russian revolution-to-come were visible 
everywhere, and the Krupps preferred to stay out. 
About this time Admiral Barondon, then head of the 
Kiel works, talked with Hart O. Berg, and Berg re- 
ported the conversation to me. 

"I met Lake on the street to-day," said Barondon. 
"He said nothing about the way in which we have 
treated him taking his plans and refusing to pay him 
royalty. I was ashamed to look him in the eye." 

It was about this time, perhaps somewhat earlier, 
that I met Admiral von Tirpitz. He then shared the 
opinion of the sea-surface admirals of the world that 
a submarine was only an irritating toy, but after he 
had made a more careful examination he changed 
his mind. I had dwelt at some length on the value of 
the submarine as a defensive weapon. 

"Ah, yes," said von Tirpitz, "very good indeed for 
defense. But that boat would also be good for offen- 
sive purposes, and that is what we shall want her for." 

That was ten years or more before the World War, 
but I have no doubt whatever that the train was laid 
then that afterward exploded the submarine sea- 
scourge which almost starved Great Britain and, by 
a process of richochet, brought the United States into 
the war. It is likely, of course, that even though she 
had not been exposed to the attacks of the U-boats, 
Great Britain would have done her utmost to induce 
the United States to help in her defense. It is in no 
spirit of criticism that I say that it has always been 
the British policy to coax other people into fighting 


her battles when possible. But if it had not been for 
the heat-wave of propaganda in consequence of the 
U-boat successes, it is possible that we might have 
kept our heads better than we did. 

It had seemed to me that my successes in Russia 
and Europe generally might have somewhat softened 
the heart of the Navy Department. After all, I had 
only been making and selling boats to Russia because 
I had not been able to sell them at home. I had a 
very real desire to put in the hands of our Navy a sub- 
marine which was better than the best anywhere else 
in the world, so I had instructed the Lake Torpedo 
Boat Company to proceed with the building of the 
Simon Lake X at the Newport News yards. There 
was an informal understanding that if Number Ten 
was all I said it would be, the Navy would buy it. 
When I was informed that Number Ten was about 
ready for its trial runs I came home, and brought 
some members of my operating staff along. My heart 
was light. I was a proud man. I should have known 
better. At the Newport News yards I was told that 
although the men had been working overtime, the 
Number Ten would not be ready on the date prom- 
ised. I asked the United States Navy Department to 
grant me ten days' more time, 

"No," was the curt reply. 

The Navy Department absolutely refused to look 
at the Number Ten. Some unofficial runs were made 
by officers stationed at Newport News, along with 
officers representing England, Germany, and Brazil. 
One American officer went to Washington at his own 


expense to beg the officials of the Navy Department 
to conduct a test of the Number Ten. When he re- 
turned to Newport News he kept out of my way for 
several days. At last I met him by accident, and asked 
him what luck he had had. 

"I feel like retiring from the Navy," he said, bit- 
terly. "I am ashamed, soiled." 

I did not ask him what he had learned because I 
knew better than he did and had known it longer. 
Only submarines on which had been chalked the 
O.K. of certain financial interests would be looked 
at by the Department. I did not waste much time 
when I found the door into the Department was still 
barred against me. Russia wanted the Number Ten 
and I sold her. I had had many uncomfortable ex- 
periences in Europe, but I had never come in contact 
with the particular kind of dirt which seemed to be 
knee-deep in the corridors of our congressional halls. 

I was preparing to return to Europe, discouraged 
and furious. At this time Sir Tennyson d'Eyncourt 
opened a conversation. He was a representative of the 
Armstrong-Whitworth Company of England, and 
afterward became chief constructor of the British 
Navy. Sir Tennyson had thought it worth-while to 
come to the United States for the sole purpose of 
watching the trials of the Number Ten, although I 
had not been able to get a single officer of the Navy 
Department to ride down the Potomac River to New- 
port News. 

"I like the Number Ten/' said Sir Tennyson 
frankly, "We might have a chat." 


As the result of that talk we initialed an agreement 
for the manufacture of boats of the Lake type in the 
Armstrong-Whitworth yards in England, and the pay- 
ment to the Lake Torpedo Boat Company of a sub- 
stantial royalty. D'Eyncourt returned to Great Britain 
to talk this agreement over with his principals. A few 
weeks later I received a cable from him, asking me 
to come to England and conclude negotiations with 
Sir Andrew Noble and other directors of the Arm- 
strong-Whitworth Company. I cabled my assent, of 
course. The contract promised to make us a good 
return. But we had not reckoned with the agents of 
information, commonly called spies, who seem to be 
active in every world capital. I have no doubt that 
they sold news both ways, but the important fact to 
me was that they notified the Russian Embassy in 
Washington that I was on my way to England to 
make a deal with the Armstrong-Whitworth Com- 
pany. Consider the situation at this point: 

I had been selling Russia her new submarines. 

Russia had just concluded her unfortunate war with 

Great Britain and Japan were joined in a naval 

Therefore Russia did not want Great Britain to 
obtain the new submarine weapon, which might be 
used to aid Japan in future hostilities. Russia 
promptly notified my agent, Hart O. Berg, in Berlin 
that a check for $750,000 on account for the money 
due me for submarines was being forwarded to me 
at Berlin. 


"But if Lake so much as sets foot in England that 
check will be cancelled and no money will be sent 
in the future." 

The cable reached Berg just as he was sitting down 
to dinner. He had a number of guests of the higher 
social order, he had been very recently married, and 
he knew quite well that a faux pas might interfere 
with his future prospects. He was also a sharp-set 
American business man. He left the table, dictated 
a wireless to me on board ship, and then started for 
Plymouth, England, the first port of call for the 
steamer on which I was traveling, to see to it that I 
did not go down the gangplank. He was still wearing 
his dinner clothes. 

Berg did not reach Plymouth in time, and an 
extraordinary accident almost cost us three-quarters 
of a million dollars. Our baggage had been hustled 
off the ship as soon as the steamer tied up to the dock, 
for I was in a hurry to get to London and talk busi- 
ness with the Armstrong-Whitworth people. Mrs. 
Lake and I had just moved to go ashore on the tender, 
pleasantly aware of the glitter of the lights on the 
water of the harbor and the cavernous emptiness of 
the landing shed, when the chief steward rushed up 
to me. 

"Sorry, Mr. Lake," said he, "but a wireless has been 
sent on board, sir, addressed to a person unknown. I 
thought that it might possibly be for you, sir. The 
name is not unlike your own." 

"Not my name," I said, "but I'd better tear it open. 


That name might be a European telegrapher's idea 
of Lake." 

The wireless, of course, was from Berg, informing 
me of the conditions imposed by the Russian Gov- 

"I'm staying on board, steward, and going on to 
Cherbourg. Will you get my baggage back from the 
tender deck?" 

"Oh, but I can't, sir. It is on the bottom of the 
pile and we are just about to sail." 

"Here's five pounds," I said. "Get that baggage. If 
you don't we'll just have to sail without it." 

I do not know how many stewards he put to work, 
but we had our bags back in the cabin before the 
steamer had cleared the harbor. At Berlin we cashed 
the Russian check, but things began to happen to us. 
The Germans were not content with taking my plans 
and refusing to pay me royalty on the boats they built 
with them. They demanded that I pay them tax on 
the business conducted elsewhere by my entire or- 
ganization, on the theory that my principal office was 
in Berlin and that the company was in fact a German 
company. That was the last straw that broke the back 
of my patient camel and I decided to leave Berlin. 

There had been other straws. I had been useful to 
the Germans, but I was forced to conclude that Ger- 
man officials can be pretty nasty. 

We caught a man named Beyersdorf, a draftsman 
in our office, copying the plans we had drawn for 
some large submarines designed for Russia. He was 
bounced out of the office and fired with every benefit 


o bell and book. Then what did he do but sue me 
for the injury to his "good German honor?" He did 
not have any honor, as far as I could see, and the 
courts agreed with me, for he carried his case on 
appeal as far as was possible. It annoyed me. 

Perhaps the insult I had given the thief's good 
German honor accounted for it, but not long after 
my house and office were searched on a charge that I 
had passed counterfeit money, and I was ordered to 
appear before the Hoch Politzei, on my return from 
a business trip in the country. The day I got back I 
notified the High Police that I would appear before 
them at once if they desired, but that if this was not 
convenient, I must leave for Vienna to keep an ap- 
pointment with the Austrian Minister of Marine. 

"There is no reply to the good Mister's message" 
was the word my German representative brought 
back to me from his visit on my behalf to the Hoch 
Politzei. I did not return from Vienna for three days, 
and when I did so I learned that I had been guilty 
of lese-majesty and must not leave Germany until I 
had purged myself of this offense. But I was due in 
St. Petersburg immediately, so I asked American 
Consul-General Mason to advise me. 

"Go see the Hoch Politzei. Find out what it is all 

At the police bureau I was given an arrogant run- 
around. I must sit there and be quiet and bow from 
the belly whenever a police officer came in, none of 
which I did. I had taken Professor Schade with me 
to act as interpreter, for I had little more than no 


German, and after genuflecting and mein-herr-ing he 
learned that the only official who had any authority 
to take my matter up was the police prosecutor. The 
policemen simply refused to bother him with such a 
trivial matter. It was of no importance to them that 
I had a reservation for that night on the Nord Ex- 
press for St. Petersburg, or that my engagements in 
Russia were of considerable importance. Simon Lake 
of New Jersey blew up. 

"I'm damned sick and tired of this/' I said. "I'm 
going to leave." 

I started down the hall, meeting as I did so a man 
in a black robe and a mortar-board hat. The police 
officer whispered to Schade, "There is the police 
prosecutor. If Herr Simon wishes to speak to him on 
his own responsibility not involve the police" 

"What's the matter?" asked the police prosecutor 
in perfect English. 

We told the story and the prosecutor said that the 
trouble was that a man named Lake had been charged 
with a crime. There was no thought in his mind 
that I was the one involved, and if I would go over 
to the Crime Detection Bureau and confront the com- 
plainant, I would be discharged at once. "I will tele- 
phone instructions. Mr. Lake's arrest was merely a 
part of our plan of procedure. The police undertook 
to arrest every foreigner in Berlin named Lake, and 
the quickest way out is to go over to the Bureau and 
stand trial." 

The other Lake was tall and black-haired and I 
am short and red-haired, but this made no difference. 


The order had gone out for the arrest of all Lakes and 
I had been caught. The other Lake got away, as far 
as I know. He made me a lot of trouble, but the stu- 
pidity of the police was such that I sympathized with 
him and sincerely hoped he would never be caught. 
His crime, incidentally, was the passing of $250 in 
Confederate money. 

With one thing and another I had had all I wanted 
of Germany, and when I learned of some sunken 
treasure off the coast of Holland, I determined to 
close the Berlin office and go to England. I opened 
offices at 11, Regent Street, London. 


Hunting for the Lutine's Treasure 

SIX million dollars is a lot of money. In bank 
credits it is an enormous sum. In gold and silver 
bars and stacks of golden guineas it seems even more. 
It inflames the imagination. For one hundred and 
fifty years Dutch fishermen have patroled the coast 
of the Zuider Zee, near the Texel in Holland, and 
now and then their patience is rewarded by the find- 
ing of a golden disk or two. The markings have been 
almost obliterated by the scouring of the sands, but 
they were once English guineas, and they are to-day 
tangible evidence that somewhere on the sand-banks 
of the Texel Roads lies the noble freight of the 

There is no treasure-ship story so thoroughly docu- 
mented as that of the old frigate. The Lutine Bible 
was for years one of the chief treasures of Lloyd's of 
London I am proud to say that I own it now and 
those who had influence were permitted to glimpse 
it. It is bound in black oak recovered from the 
Lutine's hull and ornamented with polished copper 
from her sheathing, and it contains the history of the 
Lutine's loss. Seventy-five of its pages are covered 
with the fine handwriting of Lloyd's clerks, and 
sixty-eight pages remain blank. I still hope that one 



of these days I may tell in them the end of the 
Lutine's story. 

My European hopes had gone glimmering. Russia 
was engaging in the first movement of the revolution 
which was ultimately to result in the Soviet state. 
The Krupp contracts with Russia for submarine- 
building, under which I should have benefited, were 
waste papers, for the Krupps refused to take chances. 
Austria was building boats on the Lake plan and still 
owes me money for royalties. Germany had taken my 
plans, laughed at me because I lacked patents, and 
was building Lake submarines. Italy was building 
her own boats along the Lake lines. The United 
States was still closed to me. The Lake Torpedo Boat 
Company had made money, and I was anxious to de- 
velop the commercial aspects of the submarine. 

Salvaging the Lutine was an undertaking that was 
right down my street. I would have succeeded except 
for the interposition of factors to be dealt with later. 
I may yet succeed. There are six million dollars- 
four million dollars perhaps only three million dol- 
larsto be torn out of the sands of the Fly Banks. 
The Lutine adventure does not depend on tradition 
or faded maps or records illegible with age. Every- 
thing is known about it, except how to recover the 

I know that I know how. 

The Lutine was a frigate of the French Navy, cap- 
tured by the British during the republican demon- 
strations in France in 1793. It is more accurate to 
say that the French Royalists turned her over to the 


British. She was eventually overhauled, resheathed 
and to some extent rebuilt, and sent to the North 
Sea station. In 1799 there was a money panic in 
Hamburg, several banks blew up, and a number of 
merchants who were correspondents of London firms 
were in grave danger of bankruptcy. London de- 
cided to come to the rescue, precisely as in more re- 
cent years Great Britain and the United States 
propped the faltering franc. Treasure amounting to 
between five and six million dollars was placed on 
the Lutine, and she 'was ordered to take it to Ham- 

Nowadays that kind of a shipment would be des- 
patched in precisely the same way. There was a war 
on in which France, England, and Holland were 
engaged, and the risk of loss if the money were sent 
by a commercial vessel would have been very grave. 
The war had its periods of activity and lethargy, but 
it was apt to break out at any moment or place. War 
was a more leisurely and on the whole a pleasanter 
occupation in those days. Lloyd's granted insurance 
to the amount of $4,500,000 and additional insurance 
was taken out in Hamburg for $800,000; in addition 
about $750,000 of British Government cash was 
placed on board. There is some uncertainty as to 
the actual total, and one sum that had been earmarked 
for the Lutine reached the docks too late, and was 
afterward sent to Hamburg by packet. But approxi- 
mately six million dollars in gold and silver specie 
were in her strong room when she sailed on October 
9, 1799. Then something went wrong. 


It has been generally accepted that the Lutine was 
driven off her course by storm, but no reasonable 
explanation has ever been offered for the fact that 
she was driven so far off. A suggestion that there was 
treachery on board may be passed as read but not 
approved, for there is not the slightest evidence o 
it. The Lutine struck the Texel reef and broke up, 
and one of the two men saved died later from ex- 
posure. Lloyd's paid the face of its insurance policy, 
and preserved its proprietary rights of salvage by the 
same legal means. These rights have been kept alive 
ever since. 

The Lutine lies in seventy feet of water on sand- 
banks that shift with every storm. This accounts for 
the fact that not one of the attempts at salvage which 
have been made has been financially successful. It is 
true that immediately after the wreck some of the 
Dutch fishermen of the Zuider Zee had the kind of 
experience that only takes place in dreams, for the 
Lutine lay in only twenty feet of water. Some gold 
was tonged out of her hold, and they were able to 
dive for and recover other treasures. But shortly after- 
wards the frigate slipped off the reef into deeper 
water and there she lies to-day. About $420,000 has 
been recovered, but the costs of the different attempts 
probably exceed the salvage. These attempts, accord- 
ing to a published statement, were made with, "rams, 
grabs, kippers, and nets." 

I made a contract with Lloyd's, by which I agreed 
to stand all costs and take 50 per cent of the recov- 
eries, during a period of two years. It seemed to me 


certain that the steel tube which I had used with 
success in cargo-salvaging operations in Long Island 
Sound would be ideally adapted to this job. It had 
already proven its efficiency, and I believed that it 
was the only instrument that could be used under 
the existing conditions. Every storm washed the sand 
back and forth over what remains of the Lutine, so 
that divers worked under almost impossible condi- 
tions. It had been demonstrated by earlier opera- 
tions that dredges are not able to bring up gold and 
silver bars. They had been found but they almost 
invariably slipped through the jaws of the drags. 
Divers, however, could stand in the air-lock of my 
tube and cover the ground literally inch by inch. 
They could put on diving suits in the air-lock and 
explore the wreck and the vicinity and return to the 
protection of the air-lock at will. 

My friend and agent Hart O. Berg was then in 
London and we took offices at 11, Regent Street, 
which were shared for a time by the Wright brothers. 
Berg was greatly interested in our treasure-hunting 
prospects, for we had two elements which no other 
expedition that I have ever heard of possessed. In 
the first place we knew exactly where the gold was 
lying, and in the second place we had a tested in- 
strument by which it might be recovered. He pro- 
posed an English company with a capital of 50,000, 
in which Sir Christopher Furness, Sir Charles Mac- 
Laren, Sir Henry Normand, and Lord Palmer were 
interested. All the members, to the best of my knowl- 


edge, were either ship-builders or ship-owners and 
thoroughly familiar with the conditions under which 
we would operate. 

I began to build my tube immediately. When it 
was completed it was ninety-five feet long, and sus- 
ceptible of extension if needed. The interior diam- 
eter was great enough to permit divers to move in it 
easily, and it was my intention to suspend it from a 
surface vessel by a kind of ball-and-socket toggle at 
an angle which would enable men to walk up and 
down on the ladder as though on a stairway. At the 
foot was the air-lock, provided with a sea-door and 
portholes, and large enough to accommodate the div- 
ing apparatus, tongs, grabs and the like, which the 
divers would use. This was given a test in the British 
Channel, under conditions approximating those to 
be anticipated in the Zuider Zee, and it worked per- 

While the tube was being built I had become in- 
terested in another treasure wreck, the history of 
which is one of the most romantic in my knowledge. 
When the Spanish Armada sailed to attack the coast 
of England, its flagship was the Florenda. On board 
the Florenda was not only a huge treasure in gold 
and silver, but a gem-encrusted crown and, so tradi- 
tion says, a lady who was to have been crowned with 
it as the Queen of England. I was never sufficiently 
interested in the lady to discover whether or no this 
story was true, but the rest of the Florences history 
seems to be well documented. The history of the 
Armada's defeat is common knowledge. The Florenda 


took to her heels and found refuge in Tobermory 
Bay off the coast of Scotland. 

A confused tale of "Irishers" and their operations 
and a feud between the Macleans and the Macdonalds 
and the Clan Ranald and the Clan Tan follows. I say 
it is confused, but in fact it is for the most part 
definite enough, although it has no part in this narra- 
tive. The Spaniards allied themselves with the Mac- 
leans, being paid for their promised aid in food, but 
before they delivered the aid they demanded that 
Donald Glas Maclean, son of John Dubh Maclean 
of Morvern, be sent on board as hostage. Donald Glas 
discovered that the Spaniards, nicely provisioned and 
recovered from fatigue, were planning to put to sea 
and leave the Macleans holding the bag. Whereupon 
Donald Glas found his way into the ship's magazine 
with a lighted candle, and blew her up. Some Span- 
iards were on shore leave, and Spanish features are 
still to be seen near-by the Bay of Tobermory. The 
others were killed. With them died the Spanish prin- 
cessif there ever were one who was to have worn 
the crown as Queen of England. 

The Bay of Tobermory was in 1588 in the estate of 
the Argyll family and every succeeding generation 
of the Argylls has kept its faith alive in the existence 
of the Florencia and its treasures. There is, in fact, 
no doubt of either. The Florencia lies barely ninety 
yards from the end of the pier at the town of Tober- 
mory, in sixty feet of water, and enough has been 
recovered to make certain that she is the true 
Florencia and that her battered hulk did at one time 


contain the treasure. In 1670 a bronze cannon, eleven 
and a half feet long and with a bore of seven and a 
half inches was recovered from the wreck, and now 
stands in the grounds of Inveraray Castle, one of the 
seats of the Argyll family. On its breech are to be 
seen decorations graved by Benvenuto Cellini when 
he was working for Francis the First of France at 
Fontainebleau. No one knows precisely how the gun 
passed into Spanish hands. 

Those interested in treasure hunting will do well 
to read the story of the Florencia, which I have no 
space for here. I might add that two Earls of Argyll 
lost their heads on the block because of it, that James, 
Duke of York, was almost drowned in a salvaging ex- 
pedition in 1682, and that the Argyll dignity was 
raised from an earldom to a dukedom because the 
family helped dethrone James the Second, who had 
tried to steal their wreck in Tobermory. In 1873 the 
Florencia was located through the employment of a 
primitive form of the modern diving suit, but the 
vessel had sunk deep in the mud. In 1905 a salvaging 
company was formed with Glasgow money, and a vast 
quantity of ancient arms, stone cannon-balls, and an 
old silver candelabra was brought up. Glasgow mer- 
chants are the canniest of all canny Scots. Yet this 
company dissipated its money because this seems in- 
credibleinstead of using approved methods for re- 
covery it depended on the guidance o a Scottish 
"dowser." I have heard what kind of magic the dowser 
used, but it wasn't good enough. 

Perhaps a score of inadequately financed, unscien- 


tific, more or less scatter-brained expeditions were 
formed to recover the Tobermory treasure. The lat- 
est and soundest of which I have knowledge was that 
organized by Lieutenant-Colonel Kenneth MacKenzie 
Foss, who wanted me to join him and make use of 
my submarine tube. It is likely that I should have 
done so, for he knew exactly what he was about, and 
had enough capital to cover the costs of a sanely 
conducted expedition. But Foss was ultimately se- 
verely injured and his company languished. 

Prospects in the United States had again become 
promising, as they had had a habit of doing for 
years. Again the forward-looking officers of the 
United States Navy were trying, as one admiral said 
to me, "to break the hold that high finance had on 
the Navy Department's throat/' The Lake Torpedo 
Boat Company had a very considerable surplus, and 
I had acquired quite a decent little fortune of my 
own through my European ventures. When I learned 
that there was a chance a sentiment had been aroused 
in Congress in favor of permitting the Navy's ex- 
perts to have their own way in the buying of sub- 
marines, instead of allowing the congressional clique 
to continue in control, I determined to return home 
and try once more. 

We never did get a chance to try out the submarine 
tube on the Lutine's treasures. I laid up the tube at 
Brightlingsea, and have been paying storage charges 
ever since. 


How Business Men Make War 

I DIDN'T know what I was getting into. Even if 
I had known, it is probable that I would have 
gone right along getting into it. It must be that I am 
rather bull-headed, for when properly qualified 
prophets have warned me that the future was full of 
trouble and pitfalls I have kept on going. It is also 
fairly certain that I was the least bit cocky at this 

Sixteen years earlier I had started in business with 
no capital at all except the uncertain returns from 
the improved steering-gears and trawl-winders I in- 
stalled with my own hands on the oyster-boats of the 
Chesapeake Bay. My opponent in building and sell- 
ing submarines in the United States had been a well- 
financed company with a millionaire at its head. Mr. 
J. P. Holland, inventor of the Holland submarine, 
who had disposed of some portion of his interests to 
the Electric Boat Company, was not only a talented 
man, but he had had years of experience, while I 
was still a school-boy. He sold his Plunger to the 
United States Government in 1901, that being, so far 
as I know, the first military submarine to be bought 
by any government. The odds had been against me. 
This is no place for mock modesty. My success had 


been complete. The principle of level-keel sub- 
mergence on which I had built my boats had been 
accepted by every navy in the world save that of my 
own country. I had been offered a contract by Russia 
to convert her surface fleet into an undersea navy. 
Austria and Italy were building boats on the Lake 
plan, and Germany was doing likewise, even if royal- 
ties were no longer being paid to me. Great Britain 
and France had had their fill of the diving type of 
submarines, and had come around to my way of 
thinking. And a company of the leading shipping 
men of England had backed my treasure-raising tube 
with the promise of fifty thousand pounds. The Lake 
Torpedo Boat Company had been a penniless orphan 
and now it had plenty of money. I was possessed of a 
nice little fortune. All in sixteen years. 

In 1902 I had shown the way to the well-armed 
submarine service of to-day by putting a small gun 
on the Protector's turret. In 1904 I had drawn plans 
for big-gun mounting on the decks of the larger 
submarines which were to come. 

As an amusement in my spare time I had applied 
for patents for three types of airships, and it is one 
of my regrets that I have been so busy that I did 
not follow them up, for I believe the principle will 
ultimately be adopted for air freight transportation. 
These plans called for a double balloon, with cigar- 
shaped hulls, with planes forward and aft. The ship 
would have been in fact an aerial catamaran and 
would have carried a large load at fair speed and 
with complete safety if helium were used for infla- 


tion. Reversible propellers, variable-angle motors, 
landing wheels, and an anchoring device were among 
its features. One of these days this idea will come into 
common use. I say this because the flying-machine 
to-day is the most inefficient piece of machinery of 
which I have any knowledge. It is possible to make 
long flights at high speeds and carry heavy loads, of 
course, but at an excessive cost in energy and dollars. 
The first ten-horse-power machine of the Wright 
brothers was more efficient in its application of power 
than the best of to-day's planes. If it were possible to 
get 25 per cent of theoretic efficiency one hundred 
horse-power could lift one hundred tons. Three or 
four years ago I patented plans for a plane which 
is a combination of the features of a helicopter and 
an ordinary plane, and which met its laboratory tests 
successfully, but it is at present only in its experi- 
mental stage. 

I have retold the tale to show that if I was cocky I 
had a reason for it. 

When I learned that the Navy would be given 
authority by Congress to do its own submarine-buy- 
ing I drew some new plans. I proposed to build the 
finest submarine ever constructed. My correspondents 
in America had made clear to me that the compe- 
tition would be stiffer than ever but that I would 
have a large body of naval opinion on my side. In 
1904-05 lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Murray, then 
Commandant of Submarine Defense, had stated in 
his annual report that a boat of the Lake type was 
needed at the School for Submarine Defense for ex- 


perimental work, for: "This is the only submarine 
boat, as far as it is known, that can be efficiently used 
in countermining electrically controlled mines." 

In effect I offered this: "The Lake Company will 
build at its own expense a submarine which will be: 

'Taster on the surface or under it than any boat 
now building, either in the United States or abroad. 

"It will have a greater radius of action, more pow- 
erful armament, eight torpedo tubes, safety features 
by which men can escape when the boat is submerged, 
and facilities for planting mines and cutting cables. 

"It will do more than the United States Govern- 
ment has ever asked that any submarine do." 

Then I made my brag. "If it does not do all that is 
claimed for it the United States Government need 
never pay us a cent of money/' 

The Seal did all that I claimed for it and more. It 
was hastily conceived and hastily designed I will tell 
the story presently but I believe this super-sub- 
marine built twenty-seven years ago still holds the 
record for efficiency in speed, both in surface and 
submerged running, for horse-power per ton of dis- 
placement and armament surface. The day it was 
launched it was the best undersea boat that had ever 
been built or that had ever been proposed for our 

In 1910 I was in Pola, Austria, and learned that a 
date had been set on which the United States would 
open bids for the construction of a submarine which 
would outperform any that had ever been built. I 


called in Edward L. Peacock, our chief engineer, and 
told him what I proposed to do. 

"I am going to get up plans for the largest and 
fastest submarine ever built and we have only two 
weeks in which to do it. Then I must sail for home 
to get there in time for the opening of the bids." 

"O.K.," said Peacock. 

We called in some of our draftsmen from the 
Arsenal and got at it in quarters we improvised in 
the hotel. We did not have time to check all the posi- 
tions of weights with the displacements nor the 
speeds; I took a chance on going ahead on my own 
judgment. Peacock and I disagreed at times, notably 
on the new boat's efficiency in the use of torpedoes, 
either when submerged or on the surface. 

Peacock finally said, "Go ahead, Simon. Have it 
your own way. It's a funny thing about some of your 
designs. According to established practice they should 
not work, but somehow the damned things always 

I considered that a great compliment, for not only 
was Peacock a sticker for his point of view, but he 
was one of the most efficient engineers I have ever 
known. I had known Peacock ever since the early 
days when the first Argonaut was being built. He 
was then chief engineer and John Mclnnis was chief 
constructor and the pair would have arguments that 
lasted for hours. An engineer thinks of a ship's hull 
only as the vehicle which carries his beautiful ma- 
chinery, and is apt to refer to the ship as "an old pot.** 


Mclnnis later became chief constructor and vice- 
president of the Bath Iron Works. 

Peacock had been chief draftsman at Cramps, chief 
engineer at Harlan and Hollingsworth's, and chief 
engineer at the Columbian before he was twenty-five 
years old. He had designed and superintended the 
building of the engines for the first American torpedo 
boats, die Rogers, Foote, and Winslow, and had a 
part in other naval building. While with the Midvale 
Company, he cooperated in drawing the designs for 
the engines of E. J. Hill's great Minnesota, which up 
to that time were the largest marine engines ever 
built. He was with me about ten years and then re- 
turned to England to become chief engineer in charge 
of the designs for submarines in the Swan and Hunter 
plant. He was very fast at getting a new idea and 
putting it down on paper. 

The Seal's tests were entirely successful and the 
Secretary of the Navy not only accepted her without 
question, but gave us contracts to build other similar 
boats. However, I did not draw an easy breath until 
the papers had been signed and delivery made, for I 
had had more than one experience with the odd 
things that happen when an inventor tries to buck 
moneyed men who are in competition, I have already 
told how the Navy Board refused to try out the Pro- 
lector during the winter of 1903 because of the ice 
conditions in the harbor. Then before we sailed for 
Newport where we hoped to be given a test a de- 
liberate effort was made to sink the Protector at her 
dock. One day I received an unsigned letter: "You 


better put the Protector in a safer place* They're 
going to try to sink her." 

By this time I had learned to be wary, and so I 
anchored her in shallow water and put the old Argo- 
naut between her and the channel and hired a pri- 
vate policeman named Murphy to stand night watch. 
Murphy was a fine, upstanding Irishman who took 
no account of odds. Late that night a big sea-going 
tug steamed into the harbor and started head-on for 
the Protector, but rammed the Argonaut instead. 
Murphy saw the tug coming and jumped to cover 
behind the conning-tower with his revolver ready for 

"If you come any further I'll blow your liver lights 
out," he yelled to the man at the wheel. 

The steersman gave the tug the reverse bell and 
headed out into the Sound at full speed. The Argo- 
naut was a sturdy craft and not a great deal of damage 
had been done, but it was evident that my anonymous 
friend had been well informed. Pinkerton's men 
learned that the tug had been chartered the previous 
day to a waterside captain who was well known as a 
tough, but there was nothing we could do about it. 
The Protector had not been hurt, and we could 
prove nothing. 

I have already told how we were refused a trial of 
our Number Ten because a former United States 
Senator asked the then Secretary of the Navy to turn 
us down. The politician later told me that some of his 
friends did not want the Navy to know what the 
Number Ten could do, and so kept us from getting a 


test. Number Ten was the best of her day, and was 
later sold to Russia. While I was in Europe on the 
trip that resulted in this sale my directors decided to 
build another boat of the Protector type, but to give 
the new boat a little more speed and a greater radius 
of action. The contract was given to the Newport 
News Ship-building Company. She was built during 
my absence, but when she was ready for trial I sent 
one of my operators home to put her through her 
paces before asking the Navy for a trial. Things hap- 
pened for which I have never been given an explana- 

Why did my trial captain cable me at St. Peters- 
burg that she "was the best ever" and "stiff as a 
church" when he knew better? Why was so much 
surplus weight added to her superstructure that her 
static stability was reduced? Why was it that, after I 
had come home and gotten her into a very satisfac- 
tory condition having undone the sabotage that had 
'been practised on her some one opened three small 
valves in her hull and so admitted water which al- 
most ruined her batteries? This delayed the trial un- 
til after the Navy Appropriations Bill had been 
passed, and then we found that a clause had been 
sneaked in which prevented the Navy's purchasing 
her, although on the records she was superior in many 
respects to any boat the Navy had at the time, I do 
not know the answers. 

I do know that Pinkertons learned that one of 
our crew had been flashing a roll of bills the night 
the valves were opened and that this man then ran 


away and has never been traced. On the continent 
of Europe such things might happen, but it is cer- 
tain that in any of the countries with which I am 
acquainted an inquiry would have followed. If men 
were caught in an attempt to injure the national 
means of defense they would have been backed be- 
fore a brick wall in front of a firing squad pronto. 
This is probably the only country in the world where 
financiers or politicians are able to control the ac- 
tions of the Army and Navy Departments through 
congressional decrees. 

Does that sound like a fairly serious charge? 

When I was first called to Washington to submit 
plans to the Navy Department for a submarine the 
chairman of the Senate Naval Committee advised me 
to repeat my story to the chairman of the House 
Naval Committee. Eugene Foss was the chairman, 
but in his absence Judge Dayton of West Virginia 
was in charge. After listening to me he said, "Mr. 
Lake, you have a hard road ahead of you. No matter 
how good your boat may be, there are other interests 
trying to force the Government to accept a different 

"I think most members of Congress are honest 
men who want to do the right thing, but the trouble 
is that the few who do not are in a position to be 
continually pressing their colleagues to vote their 
way. Not many members know much about so highly 
specialized a thing as a submarine, and few Congress- 
men are able to vote on their own knowledge as to 
what the Navy should be permitted to have." 


That has been changed entirely now, and the Navy 
decides for itself what it needs and asks Congress 
only for the money it should have. Yet it is not so 
many years since a tragedy revived some of my earlier 

In 1926 die S'4 was running off Provincetown with 
only her periscope above water, when she was cut 
down by another vessel, and sank with all hands. 
Some of her forty men are known to have remained 
alive in their compartments for at least three days, 
and had she been fitted with escape compartments 
such as I had been advocating for years I believe that 
every living man could have been rescued within an 
hour after she sank. There is no secret about how 
these escape compartments work and the natural 
question is why they have not been used. The only 
reason I can think of is that the escape-compartment 
plan was patented by Simon Lake. Yet the patent 
expired years ago, and I had repeatedly offered the 
free use of it to the Navy Department long before. 
The only reply I ever received was that the Navy 
thought the escape compartment would take up space 
which could be better used for storage purposes. At 
the congressional hearing on the sinking of the S-^ 
a former naval officer took the stand. He had been 
for years an official of a company that has built a 
number of submarines for the United States. He was 
asked: "Do you know of any means by which the 
men could have been rescued from the 8-4 when she 

"No, sir." 


But when I was put on the stand and asked the 
same question I said, "Yes, sir. We have built boats 
for foreign countries containing escape compartments 
and we built one into the Seal, which we sold the 
United States Government many years ago. If there 
had been such a compartment on the 8-4 I believe all 
the men could have been saved." 

The interrogating Senator turned to Commander 
Hoover, who represented the Navy Department at 
the hearing: "Do you know about this device?" 

"Yes, sir," Hoover replied. 

"Thank you, Mr. Lake," said the Senator, turning 
to me. "That is all, I think. There are no more 

When I left the room I was followed by Mrs. 
Jones, widow of Commander Jones, who died with 
the S-^. 

"Why didn't you tell the real reason?" she asked. 

"Because I could only answer the questions that 
were asked me." 

Even to this day I do not know why escape com- 
partments have not been placed on every submarine. 
However, I understand that they are now being in- 
stalled on some of the larger vessels. There is no rea- 
son why they should not be added to all the 
submarines now in commission. They are merely 
modifications of my grandfather's old powder-horn. 
But this is really a part of the story of the sinking 
of the 8-48. 

It was not all fun and games when we were build- 
ing for the Government. The S-^5 was almost lost, 


her crew with her, because some smart aleck in the 
drafting-room had had an idea and acted on it with- 
out putting it up to the old man. I never refused to 
listen to a man who thought he had found some- 
thing. I was glad to listen. If he really had something 
he got full credit and even if he had nothing he got 
credit for trying. It galled me when a draftsman made 
changes in my plans on his own responsibility. 

The twenty-eight-inch submerging valves on the 
S'48 had been planned to open against the force 
of the water. The reason for this seems perfectly 
clear to me, for in this way the power of the inflow- 
ing current could be used to close the valves quickly, 
and that might be highly necessary. The submerging 
tanks had a capacity of one hundred and twenty-five 
tons of water, but if it happened that we only wanted 
fifty tons it might be highly inconvenient if the en- 
tire one hundred and twenty-five were forced on us. 
Also a jammed valve would close more easily if the 
weight of the current could be called on for aid. 
But the smart-aleck draftsman had reversed this plan, 
which had been tested and proven good on all of 
my earlier submarines. He made the intake valves 
open with the current. 

No harm might have been done except for an acci- 
dent. I would ultimately have discovered the change 
in the construction plans, or the weakness would 
have been found out in one of the test dives. But 
the noon whistle blew one day and the workman who 
had been screwing on a manhole cover in a dark 
compartment back of the Diesel engines dropped his 

This picture shows some of the mechanism and the torpedo tubes. 


tools and hustled for his dinner bucket, leaving his 
job uncompleted. After lunch he was given another 
job and with the light-hearted inconsequence too 
often found in mechanics he forgot all about the 
half-open manhole. 

The 8-48 went to sea for a trial, accompanied by a 
launch. On the way the engines of the launch broke 
down and she hobbled back to Bridgeport. Arriving 
at the trial grounds the order was given to dive, the 
conning-tower hatch was closed, the rudder set, and 
the flood valves open. Down went the 8-48 like an 
arrow. The water rushed from the ballast tanks 
through the manhole left open by the careless work- 
man and flooded the engine-room so rapidly that the 
men had barely time enough to get forward and close 
the water-tight door between the engine and control 
rooms. The 8-48 sank in seventy-five feet of water 
with her bow inclined slightly upward. No one on 
shore knew she had gone down. If they had known 
they would have had no idea where to search for her. 

Fortunately a number of the crew were old-timers 
and kept their heads. The problem was to get her 
bow above water, for her stern portion was filled and 
open to the sea. All hands started to move weights 
as far aft as possible and the ballast tanks forward 
were blown out. Still the bow did not break water. 
Then one of the men thought of a sounding device 
I had installed, the design of which had been sug- 
gested by the old powder-horn that had led me to in- 
corporate the first air-lock in the little Argonaut 


In order to take soundings through her bottom I 
had set in a double-ended valve, six inches in diam- 
eter. When the lower end was closed the lead was 
dropped into the six-inch pipe which connected the 
two valves. The wire was passed through a hole in 
the upper valve, which had been properly stuffed 
against the intake of water, the lower valve was 
opened, and the lead dropped. In this way the lead 
could be raised and lowered at will. The 8-48 had a 
lot of lead ballast on board and by alternately open- 
ing and closing this sounding box the men were able 
to drop sufficient pig-lead into the water to bring her 
forward torpedo tubes clear of the surface. One by 
one the men escaped through them. 

The $-48 had completed all her tests except the so- 
called crash dive, in which we were allowed two and 
a half minutes to submerge from light surface con- 
dition running under engines to periscope depth, or 
about twenty-eight feet. To do this it was necessary 
to shut down our Diesel motors, transfer to electric 
motors, close all air-intake and exhaust valves and 
take in one hundred and twenty-five tons of water 
ballast. I had wanted to witness this crash dive but 
had been detained in New York, and the first I knew 
of the disaster was when the New York Navy Yard 
called me. "The 8-48 is down in seventy-five feet of 
water. The men have all been saved." 

I left immediately for the scene, and found her 
prow out of water. We were able to close the torpedo 
tubes and keep her in a semibuoyant condition until 
Merritt and Chapman's large derrick arrived and 


pulled her stem out of the mud. I the men had not 
kept their heads and dropped the pig-lead bit by bit 
through the sounding well a long and difficult job 
on the sharply sloping deck they would have per- 
ished and we might not have known even to-day 
what had become of the boat. 

This experience led me to renew in even stronger 
form the recommendations I had previously made 
that escape compartments be built into every Ameri- 
can submarine. 


United States Still Owes the Money 

IF and when the United States gets into another 
war I will know more about how to deal with 
the Government. Yet that is not an exactly fair way 
of putting what I want to say. We speak of the 
Government that overmastering, vague, ruthless ma- 
chine which has command of our lives and fortunes 
but we are really dealing with men. Tired men, 
cowardly men, courageous, patriotic, honest, con- 
fused, dishonest, foolish men. The sum of the men 
makes up the Government. One may be in a constant 
state of exasperation because of the injuries suffered 
from individuals, and still recognize that behind them 
is that thing we call the Government pushing on 
toward destiny. 

I do not know precisely how much money the 
United States owes me and those associated with me. 
I may never get a penny of it. I feel that we have 
been most unfairly treated. Yet I have no hard feel- 
ings so far as any individual is concerned. A national 
madness is a part of war. The nation is no more sane 
and competent than a man is who has sustained a 
nervous shock and on top of that has taken to drink. 

With the success of the new Seal submarine I felt 
the time had come when we would be able to do 



some good business, either with the Government or 
with private parties. So I bought some land on the 
Housatonic River which was admirably adapted to 
ship-building purposes. When the United States en- 
tered the War some of the practical ship-builders in 
our organization asked me to come up to the Boston 
Customs House and talk over a plan to build some 
standard ships. I took Foster Hawkins with me, as 
he had been in charge of our ship repair yard, and 
had plans for two wooden schooners and almost-an- 
order for them from the Government. 

"Come in with me," he said, "and well build 
them on a cost-plus- i5-per-cent basis." 

I was willing to do so, although I wanted to talk 
over Hawkins* plans and get more information. Out 
of this came a development that must seem incredible 
to the reader. I can hardly believe it myself, although 
I was one of the participants. Yet it was a thoroughly 
commonplace example of war-madness. A representa- 
tive of the United States Shipping Board was present 
with us at this meeting at the Customs House. 

"I like your plans/' he said, speaking of those Haw- 
kins, had drawn for the two wooden schooners. "But 
you cannot get an order from the Government for 
only two ships. We need so many ships. Any ship- 
yard that takes a government order must give govern- 
ment work the preference." 

That was all right with us. We were honest and 
patriotic men, and we wanted to do what we could 
for our country. I will not say that we had no thought 
of the profits we might make, for that would not be 


true, but we were first of all concerned to do our 
share as Americans. We said we would give govern- 
ment work preference at our yard. 

"Then we will come to an understanding, here 
and now," said the Shipping Board's representative. 
"I have no order blank with me, but you can take 
this statement I am about to make as a definite con- 

"I want you to build six ways immediately. Then 
I want you to build ten wooden steamers of thirty- 
five hundred tons each. 

"You will be paid on the cost-plus- lo-per-cent basis. 

"As soon as the plans for the ships are ready we 
can draw up specifications and sign a contract based 
on them, but you need not wait for that. You can go 
ahead and order your lumber and the other things 
you need, and an inspector representative of the Ship- 
ping Board will be sent to you in a few days." 

It does not sound as though we had good sense to 
accept that verbal order as a contract, but that is just 
what we did. I had some loose money at the time, 
and with Kenneth and Archibald McNeill of Bridge- 
port I formed the Housatonic Ship-building Com- 
pany and started in to build six sets of ways. The 
Shipping Board seemed to have accepted the verbal 
contract quite as sincerely and enthusiastically as we 
did. An inspector and accountant were sent to us, 
and they inspected and accounted, but we did not 
get any money, or was the written contract ever forth- 
coming. Then the man from Boston who had made 
the verbal contract with us retired from his position 


with the Shipping Board and Eades Johnson was 
sent up from New Orleans to take his place. 

"The lawyers are holding up your contract/' he 
told me, time after time, in the offices he had opened 
in New York in which to handle the affairs of the 
New England district. "But it's all right." 

"It isn't all right with me any longer," I told him 
on one of my numerous calls at his office. "We have 
spent about a quarter of a million dollars and we 
haven't the scratch of a pen to show that the Govern- 
ment will carry out this contract." 

"Sit down," said Mr. Johnson, "and 111 call Wash- 
ington right now." 

Washington reported that the contract would be 
put in the mails right away, but it did not come. 
Then I sent Mr. Hawkins to Washington to find out 
what had gone wrong, and he brought back a con- 
tract for us to sign which was nothing like the verbal 
understanding. It provided for a flat profit of $15,000 
for each shipor a total of $150,000 for the tenand 
that would not reimburse us for the money we had 
already spent. 

"All right," said Washington, "tack on an adden- 
dum to the contract in which you make plain what 
you think you should be paid. We cannot pay you 
until we get some form of contract." 

As a pay day was almost due we hastily wrote the 
required addendum and attached it to the contract. 
At Washington it was torn off and the contract sent 
back to us with red ink drawn through the line in 
which we were promised $15,000 profit on each ship. 


A note followed: "We have reduced the profit sum 
from $15,000 to 1 10,000. If this does not suit we can 
probably adjust our differences later." 

We were hooked, and what could we do about it? 
There is little morality in war, plus that vast con- 
fusion and fatigue and uncertainty and lack of defi- 
nite knowledge of which I have spoken. We built 
six of these wooden steamships and never got a penny 
for them from the Government. Yet the bill as ren- 
dered to the Government was little more than half 
what identical ships, built in government yards, cost 
the country, and our ships were far better built. 

This is not the only unfortunate experience I had 
with the Government during the War. We had con- 
tracted to buy the Craig Ship-building Company, 
with a plant at Long Beach, California, as it seemed 
advisable to build some of our submarines and other 
ships on the west coast. We took several contracts 
from the Government but at last we were frightened 
out. No one knew what the next day might bring 
forth. Materials and wage costs might go skyshooting 
at any moment. The Government had made a rule 
that not less than five dollars a day be paid any ship- 
yard worker, and some classes of labor, of course, 
were paid much more. We had taken our contracts 
on a fixed-price basis and the costs had risen so fast 
that no profit was left. When we were offered other 
government contracts we sent a man to see the leader 
of labor on the west coast. 

"Can we make an agreement on wages which will 


remain constant during the construction of the ves- 
sels which we have a chance to build?" 

"No," said the labor boss. "The sky's the limit. 
Well get all we can." 

We had to refuse the Government business and 
eventually sold the plant back to the Craigs at a 
loss, all because labor racketeers were so blind and 
greedy as to think that they could make a permanent 
gain by robbing their employers. The Government 
wanted to stand well with labor and granted every 
demand that labor made. The wage-cost rose from 10 
per cent in some classes to more than 100 per cent in 
others. This lay-down on the part of labor and selfish 
political action on the part of the Government was 
the first intimation I had had that we were following 
the same path that the Bolshevists and communists 
of Europe had marked out. We are still following it. 

I was bred among mechanics who took a pride in 
their work. I am a good mechanic myself. The men I 
grew up with were willing to give a fair day's work 
for a fair day's pay. They did not spend their time 
listening to politicians who kept telling them they 
were abused and downtrodden and forgotten and 
cheated, nor to labor racketeers who talked as though 
the employers were the enemies of their employees. 
I detest these skrimshanking belly-achers with all my 
heart. The first I saw of this new spirit in labor was 
in the Russian Government's New Admiralty Works 
at St. Petersburg: 

"Something's wrong somewhere," I said to myself. 
"We are supposed to be employing fifteen hundred 


men, but if we are they are not doing their work. 
Let's see about it." 

I made the men check in at the door each morning, 
and, sure enough, fifteen hundred reported for duty. 
But I could not count more than half that many on 
the jobs. One day I had the whistle sounded for quit- 
ting work, and I watched the yards from a little bal- 
cony at the machine-shop. Men crawled out from 
abandoned buildings and old lumber-piles like ants 
and hurried to check in with the timekeeper. Every 
one of the fifteen hundred reported himself at work. 
At the time I thought that was a truly Russian trick, 
but I was to discover that the American workman has 
tricks of his own. 

One of the best hustlers I ever saw was an inspec- 
tor for the Shipping Board attached to our Bridge- 
port shipyards. It was a treat to hear him call up 
some drowsy superintendent of transportation and 
ask why the hell the stuff that had been ordered had 
not been delivered. He had all the weight of the 
Government behind him, and he used it to get the 
action he wanted. 

"I'd like to be your assistant here," he told me. 
"Won't you write a letter to Mr. Eades Johnson and 
ask permission to take me on?" 

I did it. He was a good man. Eades Johnson would 
not let me have him, though. "When the Govern- 
ment gets a good man, and I know it, I'm going to 
try to hold him." 

But my friend the inspector did not want to be held 
in the government service, but to get into private 


business, where enterprise might offer higher profits 
even at the cost of the Government. Presently things 
began to go wrong. Other yards got the lumber and 
steel that should have been sent to us. Our accounting 
office suddenly slowed up. Unwarranted charges were 
made against our building superintendent. So many 
queer things happened that I put detectives on the 
job and in a little time he found that there was a con- 
spiracy to take the yard away from me and turn it over 
to one of the inspector's friends on a lo-per-cent cost 
basis. That lo-per-cent profit had been originally 
promised me, but I did not get it. Maybe I did not 
take a hint when it came to me. 

Some one in Washington was in the game and my 
pay-rolls were held up, so that more than once Ken 
McNeill and I had to go to the Bridgeport Trust 
Company and borrow the money. Charles M. Schwab 
was then in charge of the Emergency Fleet Corpora- 
tion in Philadelphia and I went up to see him and 
told the story. He put it before a committee. One of 
the members of that committee had been friendly 
with the very men I distrusted. 

"Pooh, pooh," he said. "Nonsense where's the 
proof of this silly yarn?" 

"I'll show the proof to Mr. Schwab but to no one 

We walked into the next room. When we came out 
Mr. Schwab said to the committee, "Mr. Lake has 
shown me the proof of his assertions. Now I'm going 
to ask Mr. Lake what he wants done. 

"Send a man up there to take charge and investi- 


gate. If he finds what I know he will find I want him 
to fire all the crooks." 

This was done. Then it was found that the man I 
had tried to get away from Eades Johnson and make 
my own assistant had been at the bottom of it all. 
He had not been long out of the Michigan peniten- 
tiary and was wanted in California for murder. The 
last I heard of him he was in jail for swindling a 
widow. But I will repeat that he was one of the finest 
hustlers I've ever known. 



The First Cargo-Carrying Submarine 

T was Brother Jasper who admitted that "the 
world do move/' but an impatient inventor is 
apt to think that it moves slowly. No doubt this is 
as it should be. If every man with a new idea were to 
be given a prompt hearing we would be snowed 
under with cockeyed schemes. But at the outbreak 
of the World War it seemed to me that the sub- 
marine had made good. So far as ruling naval cliques 
and the general public were concerned it was still 
the pet child of crazy inventors and nothing more. 
In England, Admiral Sir Percy Scott had warned 
his people that the submarine would ultimately drive 
the battleship from the sea. He was a stout man and 
a born fighter, and he had all the fighting he wanted 
after that. Nothing was too harsh to be said of him 
by the other admirals who were asked to contemplate 
abandoning their broad quarter-decks for the oily 
cubicles of a submarine. The press ridiculed him: 
France was doing no more than toy with the under- 
sea boats, Italy had had bad luck, and even in Ger- 
many Admiral von Tirpitz had not fully grasped the 
importance of the new weapon. In the United States 
we did not realize that the German submarines might 
become murderous raiders of commerce. 


I know quite well that thousands o sensational 
columns were printed in the newspapers about the 
potentialities of the submarine. For all that, I insist 
that both writers and readers had their tongues in 
their cheeks. The stories offered another pleasant 
titillation of the nerves for those who had acquired a 
taste for horrors. I agonized desperately. I did not 
feel then I do not feel now the slightest responsi- 
bility for Germany's use of the submarine, but there 
is no blinking the fact that her boats had been built 
on my plans. They submerged on level keels and 
they carried torpedoes and guns. Diving boats of 
the earlier models the boats that leaped into the air 
like porpoises, and were almost uncontrollable in 
their power dives would have been targets instead 
of furies. When the Germans warned the English not 
to send the Lusitania out of the harbor of New York 
I was alarmed. 

"The Germans can sink the Lusitania if they wish 
to do so," I warned. "I believe they will." 

No one cared what I said. 

The British Government defied the submarines. 
The United States Government did not take the 
threat seriously. The American newspapers were 
frankly incredulous. The editors had not yet grasped 
the idea that war consists almost entirely of killing 
and destruction. The great Lusitania seemed to the 
average sea-goer an impregnable fortress by compari- 
son with the rusty little craft that slipped along un- 
der the surface. The list of passengers on the 
Lusitania on her last voyage is proof enough of this 


public attitude. We are a cheerful and careless 
people, and we refused to believe what we did not 
want to believe. 

I spent over seven thousand dollars on advertise- 
ments before the Lusitania sailed, warning the 
United States that I believed the Germans intended 
to do what they threatened to do<, and restating my 
belief that they would do it. I had money then, more 
money than I had ever had, and I was glad to spend 
it. It was money thrown away. 

The net result of the sinking of the Lusitania, as 
it then seemed to me, was an outbreak of indignation 
against the Germans, and a very slightly extended 
realization of the submarine's power. It was not until 
Lieutenant Weddington in two hours sank the Eng- 
lish cruisers, Aboukir, Gressy, and Hogue, that the 
situation was fully comprehended by naval men. 
They had been sneering at the submarine so long 
that they had accepted a sneer as an evidence that 
battleships could not be harmed. The world public 
had long since understood that the submarine could 
be an enormously destructive force against merchant- 

What neither the public nor the naval experts nor 
the ship-building trade have ever understood is that 
the submarine may be as useful as a cargo-carrier as 
it is as a ship of war. 

Even the exploit of the Deutschland did not con- 
vince them. Public and naval experts and ship 
builders have almost forgotten the Deutschland. Only 
the lesson she taught has not been revoked. 




This remarkable German chart was made public by Lloyd George 

during the World War. Each symbol represents a ship sunk by 

a German submarine. 


I can honestly say that I am the daddy of the 
Deutschland. Paul Hilken in 1916 gave me my papers 
of paternity. 

Hilken was then the agent for the North German 
Lloyd Line in Baltimore. The Deutschland had just 
reached American shores on the first of her two 
cargo-carrying voyages. It was in fact the first voyage 
of a cargo-carrying submarine in the history of the 
world. The English had been thrown into a frenzy 
by her success, for it indicated that a break in the 
blockade of the German ports might be possible. 
American public opinion was turning against Ger- 
many, partly because of her ruthless destruction of 
unarmed ships and, of course, very largely because of 
the English control of most sources of news and propa- 
ganda. Americans, however, were tremendously ex- 
cited by the exploit of the Deutschland under Cap- 
tain Koenig. We are a sporting people at heart. The 
newspapers had carried the story that the Deutsch- 
land was in Chesapeake Bay on her way to the North 
German Lloyd docks at Baltimore. I telephoned my 
attorney and asked him to go with me to Baltimore. 

"I want to take a look at the Deutschland" I said. 
"Maybe I can tie her up on a libel." 

We boarded a motor-boat and met the submarine 
as she made her way slowly up the Patapsco River. 
The moment I noted her buoyant superstructure I 
said to the lawyer, "That's an infringement on my 
patents. I can prove it. Let's seize her." 

I did not propose this action as a partisan of the 
Allies, but as a business man who had been given 


an elaborate trimming by the Germans. They had 
spied on my actions in Germany, read my letters, 
stolen my plans, and finally refused to pay me royalty 
because I had not been financially able to take out 
letters patent in Germany. I know quite well that 
this refusal to pay royalties was within the letter of 
the law, but I still insist that perfectly honorable 
men would not have given me such shabby treat- 
ment. I was helpless against them in Germany, of 
course, but it seemed to me that I should be able to 
seize the Deutschland in American waters on the 
ground that she was a pirate of my patents. 

"I'll look up the statutes/' said my lawyer. "You've 
put a question to me I cannot answer off hand." 

"While you're at work on the books I'll call on 
Captain Koenig. I want to congratulate him on his 

The Deutschland was berthed between a large 
steamship and the dock, and a fence had been built 
to keep visitors away. Plenty of volunteers could 
have been found in those days to plant a bomb in 
her. A cordon of police surrounded a roped-off area 
into which no one was allowed to enter without a pass. 
On the water side other police kept up a constant 
watch. The officer in command of these arrangements 
was hard-boiled, as was quite right, and it took time 
and a heavy argument before I could persuade him 
to send my card in to the North German Lloyd's 
offices. Word came at once that I was to come in, and 
I was greeted by Captain Hinsch, who was in com- 


Simon Lake is second from the left; Captain Koenig third from the 

left. This historic picture was taken shortly after the arrival of 

the Deutschland on her first trip to this country. 


mand of the steamer berthed alongside the undersea 

"But yes," said Hinsch, "of course you must see 
Koenig. He will be so pleased." 

Koenig was surrounded by a congratulating group 
of important German-Americans. I told him that I 
was greatly pleased by his success. It had long been a 
contention of mine that submarines could be effec- 
tually used as cargo-carriers, and he had demonstrated 
under the most threatening circumstances possible 
that I was right. 

"It was easy," said Koenig modestly. "Even on the 
surface we lie so low that surface ships can hardly 
see us, and when we found ourselves too near enemies 
for comfort we just submerged and lay quiet until 
they had moved on. We were only compelled to do 
eighty miles under water." 

"I have another purpose in coming to see you," I 
said. "I know that the Deutschland has been built in 
evasion of my patents. If I can prove this is so I 
propose to attach her." 

At this point Paul Hilken spoke up: "You wouldn't 
do that. She's your baby." 

Then he told the story. During my residence in 
Germany I had been the guest of honor at a dinner 
given by the North German Lloyd at Bremerhaven, 
and had spoken on the future of the submarine. No 
one thought of war at that time, except as every 
intelligent man in Europe knew that sooner or later 
war was inevitable. I made a long talk on the use of 
the submarine in cargo-carrying, stressing its invisi- 


bility, its inaudibility under proper direction, and 
the fact that its cargo-carrying capacity is equal to 
that of surface ships, ton for ton. 

"Do you remember Lohman?" Hilken asked me. 
"He sat beside you at that dinner." 

Lohman was then a director of the North German 
Lloyd, and he had been very courteous in showing 
me through the ship-building plant. We had a con- 
versation of several hours in which we discussed the 
various phases of submarine construction. Later Loh- 
man became president of the company. 

"When the war broke out," said Hilken, "I got a 
letter from Lohman: 'Get hold of Lake and offer 
him whatever is necessary to get him to come to Ger- 
many and direct the building of a fleet of cargo- 
submarines/ " 

I was then hard at work for the Government and 
Hilken did not venture to open a conversation with 
me. He did not know where my sympathies might 
lie as between the Allies and Germany, and the plan 
to build cargo-submarines was a closely guarded 
secret. Hilken was by profession a naval architect. In 
the United States there have never been many mili- 
tary secrets, so in one way and another he was able 
to get a lot of information about my plans for cargo- 
submarines. He took it to Germany with him, where 
it was added to the plans I had previously drawn 
and turned over to the Germans. As a result, the 
Deutschland and her sister ship, the Bremen, were 


"You see," Hilken beamed at me, "you would do 
nothing to injure your own child." 

"If the Deutschland were a war-ship I'd darned 
well try to do something," I replied. "But my sympa- 
thies are with the women and children who are made 
to suffer by reason of the blockade England is carry- 
ing on. And what's more, Hilken, we're still a neutral 
country, and my American blood boils when I read 
that England is commandeering or sinking our ships 
engaged in a peaceful trade with a friendly nation/' 

"Would you be willing to help Germany in her 
trade relations?" 

"Germany or any other country, so long as the 
United States is friendly." 

Hilken turned to his companions at table and spoke 
in German. One of them, I noticed, seemed to have a 
great deal of authority. The others deferred to him 
with every evidence of humility. 

Hilken turned to me again. "I am authorized to 
make you a proposition. If you will organize an 
American company to build submarines with cargo- 
carrying capacity of five thousand tons, we will 
finance it." The Deutschland carried only about six 
hundred tons. 

"Ill agree in principle," I replied, "subject to fur- 
ther consideration and negotiation." 

"It's a bargain. We will cable Germany at once for 
authority to go ahead along these lines." 

The next three days were spent in discussion, al- 
though our time was somewhat broken in on by 
Baltimore's hospitable hosts and her indomitable re- 


porters, who lionized Captain Koenig until he would 
have run and hid if there had been any place to run 
to. He was a modest and self-effacing gentleman, who 
did not seem to realize that he had made one of his- 
tory's not-to-be-forgotten voyages. I was made a not 
altogether unwilling participant in this, for I ad- 
mired Koenig sincerely. When Dan Willard, presi- 
dent of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, asked me 
to stand with Koenig for a photograph on the site 
of the building from which Morse sent his first tele- 
graphic message to Washington, and near-by the dock 
at which my first Argonaut was launched, I was de- 

Koenig slipped through the blockade near the 
mouth of Chesapeake Bay, which the Allies had 
established within about forty yards of the three-mile 
limit. He later returned to the United States with 
another cargo, and got safely home again. In the 
meantime, my plans for building the cargo-carrying 
fleet were progressing nicely, and on September 22, 
1916, Paul Hilken wrote me at New London that 
the Bremen was due in a few days, and that she 
would bring with her a credit of ten million dollars, 
with which we could start operations. The Bremen 
never arrived. There has never been an authenticated 
explanation of her fate. She may have fallen victim 
to the allied fleet or struck a mine or been blown 
up by a depth bomb. It is quite as probable that her 
bones rest on the sea floor for reasons which had 
their origin inside her skin. I have never seen' the 
plans on which the Bremen was built. It may be that 


the engineers made a mistake during the process of 
working over my plans. The building may have been 
scamped or hurried. There may have been a careless 
man aboard, or a fool A careless man is a fool, of 
course, whether he is in a submarine or a subway. 

But the loss of the Bremen put an end to our plans 
for building a cargo-carrying fleet of submarines. 
American sympathies were now definitely veering in 
favor of the Allies. Our injuries at the hands of Great 
Britain were forgotten because of the greater injuries 
we suffered at Germany's hands. I could not have 
gone on with the plans we had made even if I had 
been disposed to do so for it was becoming apparent 
that the United States was moving toward a declara- 
tion of war. I got my affairs in hand, for it seemed 
to me that the United States would not only want 
military submarines that was to be taken for granted 
but that the value of the cargo-carrying submarine 
had been magnificently demonstrated and it was this 
type in which I have always been interested. I took 
the matter up with the Navy Department. 

"It is no part of our business to build cargo- 
carriers," I was told. "We are only interested in war- 

I went to the United States Shipping Board, 

"That's fine," the spokesman for the Board told 
me. "We'll go into this. We think we'll need you." 


British Sentimentality Pays Dividends 

old-style knee-and-thumb fighters used to 
have a bar-room battle-cry: 

Wild and woolly hard to curry, 
Never was tickled below the knees. 

That defines precisely the spirit in which the 
United States went into the War. Europeans must 
have looked on us as a nation of idiots. Operating 
on that theory they did some things to us which seem 
to prove it. We loaned millions to nations that could 
not have borrowed a dime at a bank if they had put 
up their crown jewels. We got into the most absurd 
situations. We talked of liberty and we actually fed 
our enemies. We closed our eyes to the fact that we 
had been robbed by our own allies while we were 
trying to get them out of the hole they had dug 
themselves, and then gave them millions of dollars 
for which they were not even grateful. The funny 
thing is that, silly as we unquestionably were, we 
were right all the time. Our tactics were deplorable 
but our strategy was superb. If we had fought our 
part of the war on the cautious, nickel-nursing, 
double-crossing lines followed by the Allies we 
would all have been licked. 



We won the war, and by that I mean that the 
Allies and Associated Powers won it, because after 
the United States got in the Americans stopped 
counting costs either in money or men, so long as 
they could save time and gain ground. 

Our folly, and tactically we played the fool, is easy 
enough to understand. Compared to the Europeans 
we were a nation of rich young men, full of beans, 
spoiling for a fight or a frolic, and confident that 
Dad could get us out of any trouble we got into. In 
the one hundred and fifty years of our history we 
had looted a continent stuffed with treasures. We 
knew ourselves to be safe from invasion for the 
windy nonsense the English talked of danger to us 
in the event of a German victory only impressed a 
weak-minded few we could not be starved, and we 
were almost unbearably chesty about our money and 
money and our brains and our inventions. The war 
had been so far away from us in miles and sentiment 
that we did not know what it all meant. No European 
nation could have lasted six weeks the way we 
played it. 

Yet we were right all the time, strategically. In 
the matter of tactics we had the brains of geese. 

My first understanding that we were out to win 
the war by spending money, siphoned through the 
usual business channels, came to me through my 
friend Hart O. Berg. He had been my agent in Russia 
and on the continent of Europe. It was Berg who 
launched the Wright brothers on their successful 
career in France, he had the confidence of the 


French Government, and he knew what was the air 
situation in Europe. That was, to brief it, a combat 
between individual men and planes under conditions 
that changed almost hourly. To-day's best plane 
might be a second-rater to-morrow. The Europeans 
knew better than to go in for mass production of 
planes. Their aim, on both sides, was to make to-day 
a plane that was a little faster and more maneuver- 
able than the enemy's best. In a sense they made 
only one plane at a time. That is not literally true, 
but it is illustratively accurate. Soon after we en- 
tered the war Berg came to the United States. 

"I have a chance to do something for my country," 
he told me. "The French have given me the plans for 
their best plane, which we can use to start our fleet. 
As fast as they make better planes they will send 
me the plans." 

In a few days he came in to see me again. He had 
taken his hopes and his plans to Washington. 

"I'm sailing for France," he said. "At first the au- 
thorities would not listen to me. Then they insulted 
me. 'We're going to build some real planes/ they 
said. 'Hundreds of thousands of them.' They do not 
know one little thing about how this war is being 
fought, Simon." 

I will not rehearse the follies of that silly season, 
except as they affect my own story. The German 
submarines were knocking down allied shipping 
until England really feared starvation. There seemed 
to be no way of checking them. It was then we began 
to build green-pine ships that could hardly have held 


together through a storm, and concrete horse-troughs 
with engines in them. Some unlimited ass coined the 
slogan: "Well build ships faster than the Germans 
can sink them," and Americans thought it showed a 
wonderful spirit. 

Yet the Americans were right, foolish as they were, 
for that spirit won the war. In the end we over- 
whelmed the Germans by sheer weight and speed. 
When the Navy Department refused to listen to my 
suggestion that cargo-carrying submarines be built in 
which supplies could be carried in relative safety to 
England and France, I went to the United States 
Shipping Board and at the outset was well received. 
Denman was then chairman. 

"Let's have in the experts," he said. "I like your 
idea, but let's see if the experts like it." 

We spent almost an entire night with the experts 
and convinced them that cargo-carrying submarines 
were feasible. It is not possible, of course, to compare 
a military submarine with a cargo-carrier. The pur- 
pose and lines and equipment are different. But any 
one must see that a ship rides on its submerged 
body. All that portion of the ship which is above the 
water-line does nothing to keep the ship afloat. In 
passenger ships wide decks and airy cabins are de- 
manded and ships of war must have height above 
water for the gun platforms and spacious quarters 
for the men, munitions, and the like, not to speak 
of handsome cabins for the captains. A submarine 
could never be comfortable for passenger carrying 
by comparison to the Queen Marys and Normandies, 


but, weight for weight, a submarine cargo-carrier can 
be shown to be safer in operation and more economi- 
cal to run in peace-time than the ordinary surface 

"Get ready to build, Mr. Lake," said Denman. 

I had taken with me to Washington a model of 
a submarine cargo-carrier capable of carrying 7,500 
tons of cargo at a total load displacement of 11,500 
tons, or about 65 per cent of her displacement. In 
comparison with a surface ship a cargo-carrying sub- 
marine can be built which will carry a greater per- 
centage of cargo on an equivalent surface displace- 
ment of ship, machinery, and contents. Of course, 
when the submarine is submerged her displacement 
is temporarily augmented by the water ballast taken 
in, but it seems to me this is better than to lose the 
ship. But this is becoming too technical, although I 
may suggest that naval architects examine these state- 
ments instead of merely closing their eyes and ears 
as most of them do. 

"We'll build one hundred," said Denman. 

I went out on a round-up of mills and boiler-shops 
and gas-tank builders, prefatory to beginning the 
work of building. It is possible to standardize every- 
thing when operating on such a huge scale. The parts 
needed can be made at a score of places and centered 
at a shipyard to be put together. That is a rough 
statement of the proposed plan, of course, but it is 
sufficient, for before I was ready to report to Den- 
man there had been a split and the organization 
was divided into the United States Shipping Board 


and the Emergency Fleet Corporation. General 
Goethals was at the head of the Emergency Fleet 

"You'll have to see him," said Denman. "Sell him 
your idea. The Fleet Corporation will be in charge 
of ship-building." 

Goethals was stand-offish at first. 

"But come in to-night/' he said at last. "Ill go 
over your plans with the chief engineer." 

By dawn Goethals and the chief engineer were 
seeing eye-to-eye with me. 

"But this is an experiment." General Goethals was 
right in being cautious. "We'll not start off with 
one hundred cargo-carrierswell build six instead." 

That suited me. Some of the cloud effects were 
fading out, but, after all, six cargo-carriers were more 
than the world had ever had, and they would be my 
creation. I began the job under a heavy head of 
steam. I was only fifty-one years old, I had an abun- 
dance of energy, and this was really the first time 
that a government department had shown a disposi- 
tion to cooperate heartily with me. I had my plans 
and prices ready to submit and had recast my par- 
tially completed preliminary report, when the Ship- 
ping Board ,and the Emergency Fleet Corporation 
parted company and Denman and Goethals both re- 
signed. My proposition went into the hands of a 
body the deadliness of which might be guessed at 
from its name: "A Committee on Standard Ship Con- 

On August 8, 1917, I received a letter from this 


board: "We do not consider it advisable to construct 
ships of this type at this time." 

The committee has always been anonymous. I 
never learned the names of its members and the 
letter was signed, "The Secretary of the Committee." 
I am frankly more than a little savage about this, 
for I am as sure now, after twenty years more of deal- 
ing with submarines, as I was then, that the cargo- 
carrier offered a way out of the very dangerous hole in 
which the Allies and ourselves had been dropped by 
the German attack. It seemed to me then, and it still 
seems to me, that the refusal of the committee to 
adopt my idea was due primarily to that dull resist- 
ance to anything new the inventor is forever encoun- 
tering. The man who invented a ladder must have 
been stared down by his associates, and the first man 
to think of a wheel probably starved in a gutter. My 
anger at this committee mounts higher when I recall 
that it was this body of undoubtedly excellent 
men which embarked on the green-wood and con- 
crete-ship campaign a little later. 

But at the time I accepted the disappointment as 
I had accepted others in the past. The way of a man 
with a maid is not half so marvelous as the way of 
a government committee with anything that per- 
tains to submarines. I think that in 1917 our com- 
mitteemen still thought of a submarine as either 
impossible or else the production of black magic. I 
dismissed my hopes and set about organizing the 
Housatonic Ship-building Company, of which I have 
told elsewhere. 


One of the funny incidents of this period came 
out of a conversation with Senator Ben Tillman. 

"Ben," I said to him one day, "every man who can 
read a blue-print is making some invention or other 
at this time and some of them are certain to be 
valuable. Don't you think the issuance of patents 
should be suspended? If papers are filed, you know, 
some one will get at them and in the end the enemy 
may profit." 

"Good idea, Lake. I'll see to it." 

I patted myself on the back. I might not have won 
the Government over to my idea about submarine 
cargo-carriers, but this little idea about protecting 
the inventive brains of the country from being rifled 
by the enemy might be even more profitable in the 
long run. Then a few days later I received an impera- 
tive note from the Department of Justice, and I could 
feel my red hair beginning to prickle on my neck. 
The Department spoke, as all government depart- 
ments always do speak to the citizen, in the most 
dictatorial and imperative terms: 

"The patents you have applied for will not be is- 

"Further, you are hereby forbidden to reveal any 
information under penalty of a fine which may be 
$10,000 and imprisonment." 

I got my breath back after a time and reflected 
that this note was wholly impersonal. All the thou- 
sands of men who had been inventing things in the 
hope of aiding their country had been similarly 
rapped on the wrist and most of them would get mad 


just as I had done and then get back to work just 
as I would do. For the remainder of the war I devoted 
a good deal of my time to considering underwater 
listening and protective devices and other things use- 
ful to my submersible pets. Some of the things I 
worked out then could not be used. I have never 
patented them because a patent would inevitably fall 
into the hands of the representatives of other coun- 
tries and I believe the time will come when they 
will be extremely valuable. In the meantime I am 
the only one who has the secrets. 

It was while I was so engaged that I received an 
offer from my old friend Charles R. Flint for which 
no explanation has ever been made. He asked me 
to come and see him in New York: 

"Simon," he asked, "are you free to sign a con- 

"What kind of a contract?" 

"I cannot tell you. But you know you can rely 
on me. I am empowered to offer you two and a half 
million dollars cash and twenty-five thousand dollars 
a year for a period of fifteen years. You will place 
yourself at the complete disposition of myself and 
my associates." 

That was a little too much for me. There was too 
much money, too much secrecy, too much uncer- 
tainty where I would head in and who would do 
the handling. I refused to give Flint a reply off hand 
for the very good reason that I was somewhat fright- 
ened and more than a little puzzled, and called on 
Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels with my tale. 


"Don't sign it, Simon/' said he. "I'm puzzled by 
it, too, for there is something behind it that is not 
being shown. And we are at war and we need you. 
Let this queer thing alone." 

It has never bothered me to think that two and 
a half million dollars slipped through my fingers nor 
that for fifteen years I might have drawn the very 
pleasing sum of twenty-five thousand dollars each 
year. But I am curious. I wish I could find out what 
Flint was up to and who were his associates. I have 
made many wild guesses but not one that seemed 
even remotely plausible and Flint would never tell, 
up to the day of his death. He was a queer, hard 
man, but he was an interesting associate and a good 
friend. He always kept his word and he was gen- 
erous and kind in his personal relations, but I have 
no difficulty in imagining that there might be occa- 
sions when he would be pitiless and even cruel. 

When the war ended I thought the submarine 
had been established as a marine weapon. Not one 
allied soldier had landed on German shores and this 
was at least in part due to the allied fear of the sub- 
marine. It had proven its value as a raider of com- 
merce and the great fleets of battleships had been 
shown up as mere coveys of steel hulks. Every naval 
officer knows in his heart, no matter what he may 
say, that no battleship could cross the seas if the 
enemy had submarines. These great machines ac- 
tually detract from the defensive strength of the 
nation that possesses them, for they not only im- 
mobilize men and are mere swamps into which 


munitions sink, but they take other men from the 
fighting forces to protect them. 

All these things were true then and they are quite 
as true to-day. It seemed evident to me then, just 
as it seems evident now, that the submarine is not 
only the most effective arm at sea, but that by its 
efficiency it becomes a great instrument for peace. 
But I did not reckon with England. 

England lives on its ocean freight-carrying busi- 
ness. If England could abolish the submarine and 
continue to hold the seas with her fleet of battle- 
ships and cruisers her position as Mistress of the 
Seas would continue to be unassailable. The Eng- 
lish need clicked with the glary-eyed idealism of the 
Americans. We were tired of war, sick of the sound 
of the words, weary of the smell of blood, disgusted 
with the greed and barbarism of both sides, and 
anxious to get back to the pleasant shades of senti- 
ment and the unrealistic talk of brotherly love and 
universal democracy. President Harding called his 
Peace Conference. 

It was the most complete triumph of romance over 
the harder facts of life I have ever known. But the 
romance was confined to the Americans. We eat it up 
professors, old ladies, sororities, editors, Kiwanis 
Clubs, Congressmen. There should never be any 
more war, every nation should have a cote filled with 
peace doves, swords should be hammered into plow- 
shares, and mercy and loving-kindness should cover 
the earth. We completely forgot that we were plan- 
ning all these good things for the human race, which 


has not changed materially within the range of re- 
corded history. The American thought was to do a 
sweet thing on a great scale. The English idea was 
to get rid of the submarine. 

I have the warmest admiration for the British dip- 
lomats. They can deal in the loftiest sentiments in 
the most moving terms, but they never tear up a 
mortgage. They honestly believe that what is best 
for Great Britain is best for the world, and I will 
not argue this point, for it may be true. I could only 
wish that our diplomats might be inspired along the 
same lines for I likewise feel that what is bad for the 
United States will prove to be very bad for the world. 
But in this matter of submarines I felt that Eng- 
land's statesmen had not taken a really broad view. 
They still flinched when they thought of what the 
German submersibles had done, and they had so suf- 
fered during the war that they were still moved by 
their hearts rather than their heads. If they had rea- 
soned out the problem they would see that in the 
next great war England's provisioning will depend 
on cargo-carrying submersibles. For in the next great 
war surface ships will simply disappear. At least that 
is my belief. The safety of England's shores will rest 
not on her battleships and cruisers but on her 
undersea boats. 

Therefore I addressed a letter to Lord Balfour, the 
head of the British delegation to the Peace Confer- 
ence, and will quote a pertinent paragraph or two: 

I believe that I understand and sympathize with your 
view that if the submarine could be eliminated alto- 


gether it would be to England's advantage If the 

submarine could be eliminated entirely and Mr. 
Hughes's proposal carried out in other respects it would 
be a wonderful feather in the cap of British diplomacy. 
As I have great respect for the English ability to "put 
things over" by their experienced diplomats and as I can 
see their handiwork appearing in the numerous edi- 
torials in certain of our important journals that are said 
to be under English influence, I appeal to you rather 
than to our own representatives in the Conference. 

I hope that I may succeed in convincing you that 
it is not to England's advantage to do away with the 
submarine, even if the immediate effect would be, if 
the program were to be carried out in other respects, to 
give England an immediate advantage over the United 
States. As I understand the Hughes proposal regard- 
ing capital ships, England's policy of having the largest 
navy in the world would be reestablished for the next 
few years at least. 

I recapitulated the arguments in favor of the sub- 

An analysis of the facts would prove that because of 
the introduction of the submarine many fewer lives were 
lost than would have been lost if the surface navies 
had met and fought as they were designed to do. The 
submarine undoubtedly prevented the bombardment of 
coast cities, and most of the crews of the merchantmen 
captured and destroyed were permitted to escape 

This letter was sent also to all the other diplomats 
attending the Peace Conference. Most of them re- 
plied courteously. Some of them admitted the weight 
of my arguments. Lord Balfour did not reply. 

So far as influencing the direction of affairs I might 


have saved my ink. I might also have reflected that 
man cannot by statute and agreement change the 
course of events. Gunpowder was denounced by the 
men in armor but the world accepted it. Sailors 
stormed about steam-power. It has been proven by 
the most convincing argument that iron ships can- 
not sail the sea. The story of the years which have 
followed the Peace Conference shows that subma- 
rines have come to stay. The doubter is advised to 
find the facts for himself in any newspaper file of 


Society for the Protection of Inventors 

BALFOUR and England did not wholly have 
their way. The submarine was not barred, 
for the smaller nations refused to have such a cheap 
and efficient means of defense taken from them. 
But England and Balfour and the raging sentimen- 
talists with whom we are afflicted in America did 
persuade the United States to scrap a large part of 
its fleet and to stop making appropriations for the 
building of submarines. That finished the Lake Tor- 
pedo Boat Company. 

We had shown the world how to build submarines. 
After the European countries had adopted the Lake 
designs we had been able to break through the bar- 
riers set up by high finance and our own country 
accepted the boats we had been trying to press on 
it for years. We were in a position to build subma- 
rines for commercial purposes and ultimately such 
submarines will be built. We had spent more than 
one million dollars in our experiments. At times we 
had employed over five thousand men at our Bridge- 
port plant, more than two thousand men at our 
Housatonic yards, and over fifteen hundred at Long 
Beach, California. We had a plant investment of 
more than two and a half million dollars at Bridge- 



port, we did not owe a penny, and we had nine hun- 
dred thousand dollars cash in bank, not to speak of 
a considerable sum the Government owed us. But no 
orders were in sight, and it was costing us fifty thou- 
sand dollars a year to keep up our Bridgeport plant, 
exclusive of the inevitable depreciation of the 
physical properties* So we decided to close down, pay 
off part of our first preferred stock, and quit. I 
wanted our directors to start building commercial 
submarines, but Lebbeus Miller and his son Her- 
bert S. Miller were dead and no one else cared to 
join me. 

No hard feelings. I've had a good time. 

During the seven years ending in 1923, when our 
submarine building came to an end, I had been en- 
gaged in many things. I barely missed making an 
accidental fortune in California. Fred B. Whitney, 
of Waukegan, Illinois, had been our attorney for 
years, and during the period in which we were op- 
erating the Long Beach plant we occasionally dined 
with William C. Foley, manager of the plant, and 
one of the most competent hull men in the country. 
He had a cottage on the beach overlooking the har- 
bor. A high, roundish hill furnished a pleasant 
background. Whitney knew of my liking for high 
places, and one evening he said, "Simon, I know 
you like to live on a hill from which you can over- 
look the sea. I've an option on the top of that hill 
yonder. Why don't you let me take it up and build 
a bungalow? You would enjoy life up there." 

"But I don't want to live in California. The coun- 


try is dry as a bone, there has been no rain for 
months, there is nothing green to rest the eye. I 
want to get back to Connecticut as soon as I can and 
look at the grass and trees." 

That option I refused was for a part of the top 
of Signal Hill. More oil has been taken out from 
under the hill than from any other territory of 
the same area in the world. I have never regretted 
missing that money, but I think Whitney was dis- 
pleased, and I am sure he was disgusted later on 
when I refused to retire merely because I had a for- 

During this period I was coaxed into an experi- 
ment with applied efficiency that in the end turned 
fairly sour. My technical staff was an excellent one, 
and I had been able to shift my attention from the 
operating details to some extent. When I was in 
direct control of the plant I had managed to get 
along nicely with two or three bookkeepers. I knew 
my men and I was "Simon" to the old-timers. When 
we wanted a nut or a bolt we went to the bin and 
got it. My efficiency experts put in a crew of special- 
ists who got in every one's way. The paper work 
was complicated enough for an army. A workman 
hunting a bolt had to sign a requisition and give 
receipts and waste enough time to pay for it twenty 
times over. I do not think I have patience enough 
to monkey around with efficiency systems. Give me 
good men and a good plant and I'll be satisfied. 

I was more or less on the loose. Plenty of money, 
lots of time, a good business with excellent pros- 


pects, and ideas sparking every day. As long as I 
was at work I was happy. It was only when I tried 
to enjoy myself that I was miserable. 

One of the things that I got into was the National 
Institute of Inventors. The idea was a good one. It 
had been in my mind for years. No men in the 
world need protection, guidance, moral, and, at 
times, financial support more than do inventors. But 
the way in which the idea was worked out was some- 
where between ludicrous and infuriating. It was a 
further evidence, if any were needed, that inventors 
should be provided with guards and nurses. 

I am speaking with very deep earnestness in this. 
All my life I have been an inventor. I have learned 
to accept the fact that a new idea that in any way 
departs from the routine of life will be repelled by 
the public. This is no doubt a phase of the protec- 
tive machinery of society. The too ready acceptance 
of new things would make society even more light- 
minded and hair-brained than it now is. But a man 
with a new idea should not be regarded as a public 
enemy. He should be granted a hearing, and if his 
invention is worth-while he should be protected in 
its possession and helped in its development. 

As matters stand to-day a greenhorn inventor may 
find himself working on some scheme that has been 
public property for half a century. If he has really 
struck into new territory he may fall into the hands 
of a shyster lawyer, who thinks only of the money 
he can wring out of the poor devil. If he escapes 
these early perils a promoter may get hold of him 


and either waste his money or steal his invention. 
I he dodges the promoter and tries to interest pos- 
sible backers on his own, he will be turned back 
by cigarette-yellowed office-boys and frozen by blonde 
transparencies. I knew the troubles of the inventors, 
and as one of the guild I hoped to lessen them. 

During the World War, Secretary of the Navy 
Daniels had moved toward the control of inventions 
and the protection of inventors. He appointed a 
civilian board to look into the merit of inventions 
offered the country, but this was of necessity a war- 
time measure only. I hoped to see this expanded 
into a permanent peace-time structure, entirely apart 
from the armed services. My own experiences, in 
fact, led me to agree with Secretary Daniels in his 
estimate of the war and army leaders. He said to 
me once: 

"One of the troubles is that we send young men 
to the military establishments maintained by the 
Government to gain knowledge qualifying them to 
become officers. When they come out of such estab- 
lishments they think the knowledge they have 
gained is all the knowledge there is, and that any- 
thing they do not know is not knowledge." 

In 1919, then, with the war back of us and most 
of us still filled with the fervor created by war, I 
was ready to go on with my plan for a Society of 
Inventors. But my hands and my heart were full of 
other things, and it was only now and then in talk 
with my own kind that the plan came up. It was 


at this time that I was invited to attend a dinner 
given at the Hotel Astor, for the purpose of dis- 
cussing the formation of such a society. Among the 
guests at the dinner were some of the most widely 
known men in the field. A temporary organization 
was formed. Some of us put in enough money to 
cover the initial expenses of rent and printing and 
stenography. A man who had been running a little 
magazine devoted to invention was made temporary 
chairman. He had an abundance of energy and plenty 
of smart ideas, and presently he had a society on 
paper that looked like the realization of our 

I had money then, plenty of it, and this scheme 
had been close to my heart for many years. I sent 
in a check for $500 as I remember possibly only 
$250 with the assurance that more would be forth- 
coming. The plan was to have a library and a labora- 
tory, and research and legal bureaus, so that inventors 
suffering from intellectual birth-pains could find 
out what might be the prospects of the child. I 
had determined to put in a quarter of a million dol- 
lars, and many others were equally willing to stand 
their share. Then we found we were in the hands 
of a crook. Dr, William M. Grosvenor made the 

"Our president's real name," he told me, "is not 
whatever he called himself. He is a professional ras- 
cal. So is his partner. The constitution and agree- 
ment he has drawn up would put all control in his 


So we dropped that matter. I do not recall what 
happened to the president. I have a vague recollection 
that he hooted and bawled around for a time, in the 
hope that he might get a little more money out of 
us, but we were all busy men and we simply forgot 
him. He got away with the money we had put up, 
of course, but that did not bother us. No man should 
have enough leisure time to spend it in crying over 
spilt milk. But if he had been as honest as he 
seemed to be competent, a magnificent thing would 
have been done for American invention. We had 
planned to raise a fund of $50,000,000 and I have 
no doubt that we could have done it. It is not too 
late to attempt the same thing to-day. Some one 
should do it. 

There were plenty of other things with which to 
occupy myself. In 1912 I had built a dredge for 
purposes of recovering gold from river bottoms, and 
it worked but I had bad luck with it. I placed it 
in a North Carolina river-bed in which enough color 
had been found to promise profitable exploitation 
if the dredge were as successful as I believed it would 
be. We just had it in place and had begun work 
when one of the southern floods roared down the 
river and carried the dredge away. I was absent at 
the time, but the man in charge said the flood rose 
eighteen feet in two hours and swept the dredge 
over a dam, lodging it in the middle of a swamp. I 
had no time to fool with it then, for I was busily 
engaged in building submarines, but I held it in 


memory. When I developed a little leisure I began 
to play again with the thought of dredging for gold. 
Perhaps, I am not sure, my interest was reawakened 
by a talk I had with Herbert Hoover. We were lunch- 
ing at the Engineers' Club and the talk turned to 
his mining operations. 

"I wish I had a good dredging outfit," he said, 
"for there is a fortune to be made in Russia. I know 
of sands in the Lena delta which run two hundred 
and fifty dollars to the yard." 

I knew that Hoover knew his Russia, but for all 
that it seemed to me that two hundred and fifty 
dollars to the yard is a good many dollars. A little 
later, though, I had lunch with an associate of John 
Hays Hammond. 

"I have heard of sands that run two hundred and 
fifty dollars to the yard," I said, "but I hesitate to 
believe that. One yard might run two hundred and 
fifty dollars, but a delta full of two hundred and 
fifty dollar yards is more than I can stomach." 

He said I didn't know what I was talking about. 

"I know seven hundred dollar sand," he said. 

Every one knows how the gold production in Rus- 
sia has jumped up in the last few years, especially 
since the United States Government began to buy 
all the gold available in order to line a hole in Ken- 
tucky. It may be that these tales were founded on 
fact. They steamed me up, in any event, and I built 
a gold-washing machine that is better by test than 
any in use to-day. I tried it out with fifty pieces of 


gold, ranging in size from a mere flake to a nugget 
the size o a marble, and ran them through the 
washed sands time after time. I sometimes failed to 
recover the fifty on one operation, but I never failed 
to get the fifty on repeat. When I stopped my experi- 
ments I had my original fifty pieces. Armed with 
this information I adapted the idea to the submarine 
tube I had used successfully in wreck-salvaging oper- 

One of these days, when I am not busy on some- 
thing else, I'll get it to work on the gold-bearing 
sands along the Alaskan coast. I know quite well 
that dredging operations have failed there, and I 
know why they have failed. The dredgers don't 
know, but I do. I can put a pump in a submarine, 
so that I will have both atmospheric and hydrostatic 
pressures to work with and I'll get the gold out of 
the sand. 

Between times I grew interested in a plan to put 
up prefabricated houses at a cost that the workman 
can afford. The idea first came to me during a trip 
across on the old Lusitania. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph 
Fels were on board and we fell into talk. 

He was a philanthropist, the manufacturer of a 
widely used soap, and was so much interested in 
the need for decent and permanent housing for the 
working class that he had financed the building of 
a model village in England. Fels then used precisely 
the same arguments that are now accepted for the 
erection of cheap housing. Later I met some gentle- 
men at the home of Charles R. Flint, among whom 


were Joseph Fels, and William M. Ivens. We talked 
around and about plans for improving the slum areas, 
but nothing came of it. However, the thing stuck in 
my mind. It seemed to me that any plan for cheap 
housing must possess five qualifications: The house 
must be cheap, comfortable, convenient in every way, 
good to look at, and permanent. 

I came to the conclusion that the only way in 
which this important question could be solved was 
to abandon the old-fashioned way of putting a house 
together, piece by piece, on the spot, and assemble 
its parts on the Ford plan. Ultimately I invented 
a double-insulated wall, which could be cast in a 
factory, shipped on a truck, and hung in place by 
an ordinary caterpillar crane. The Patent Office 
granted me basic patents on features of this inven- 
tion, and a test running as far back as 1918, when 
my first experimental house was built in Milford, 
proves that I was on the right track. Under the 
New Deal I offered the use of these patents to the 
Federal authorities through President Roosevelt 
and Senator Wagner, but nothing came of it. 

The obstacle that I met from the outset was the 
fear on the part of organized labor that the building 
trade unions would lose work if prefabricated houses 
were erected on any large scale. I believe that this 
is a false assumption. That a few men would suffer is 
true, but the advantage to the labor body as a whole 
seems to me to be very great. I have convinced a 
few labor leaders of this, but others have not been 


able to recognize that, for every man laid off. in one 
particular trade, many more jobs would be avail- 
able for other tradesmen, and labor as a whole would 
benefit because of the cheaper and better housing 
which would be provided. 


Freight- and Passenger-Carrying Subma- 
rines in the Future 

I AM confident that one of these days I will be 
able to walk along the cargo docks and see 
freight packages plainly labeled: "Ship by subma- 

For freight- and passenger-carrying submarine 
routes are certain to be established sometime. That 
certainty of the future is casting its shadow on us 
just as the coming of the airplane and the electric 
light and radio communication and all the other 
great advances of our age were signaled in advance. 
The Wright brothers and Thomas Edison and 
Guglielmo Marconi did not realize, perhaps, how 
great was the world's need for these commonplaces 
of to-day. Henry Ford did not think he was making 
over the United States when he tinkered with a gaso- 
line engine in a rickety shop. But they kept on put- 
tering around and were laughed at and suddenly 
their nonsensical ideas became a part of modern life. 

Freight- and passenger-carrying submarines will 
come into use because they are a step ahead of the 
surface ships of to-day, just as the first wheezy, stut- 
tering steam-engines furnished a better source of 


power than blindfolded horses walking around a 
dusty ring. 

Trade routes will be established between Euro- 
pean and Oriental and Russian ports, and some of 
our Northern Pacific ports. The distances now cov- 
ered by some lines using the Suez and Panama canals 
will be almost cut in two. I have previously shown 
that a submarine is at an advantage as compared 
with a surface ship because it is relieved of so much 
dead-weight. In time of storm it need only submerge 
to a zone of quiet. In good weather it will ride the 
waves just as the Deutschland did when Captain 
Koenig brought her over. Even in the midst of war 
he only found it necessary to do eighty miles sub- 

Not the least of its advantages is that a submarine 
can enter ice-bound ports. Vladivostok need never 
again be closed by the Russian winter. Travel under 
the ice is more comfortable and safer than bucking 
winter seas. That has been shown. This is not in- 
tended as a bit of sensationalism. It is a simple state- 
ment of fact. It is probably true that the reader will 
recoil at the mere thought of a voyage in the depths 
of the sea, a lid of ice overhead, in a blind boat that 
cannot see a foot ahead of its nose and must steer 
by its instruments. The uninformed will think of 
such a voyage as the ultimate in reckless folly and 
soggy, chill discomfort. Yet it would be neither dan- 
gerous nor uncomfortable. The one very doubtful 
pleasure the winter voyager would be forced to 
forego would be his morning constitutional on a 


deck heaped with ice and swept by furious waves. 

In 1898 I appeared before the faculty of the Johns 
Hopkins University and advocated the building of 
a submarine for use under the ice. I was ahead of 
my time, for the submarine had not then been 
brought to its present efficiency, but my argument 
holds good to-day. Nansen had just returned from 
eighteen months on the arctic ice in an effort to 
reach the north pole, and reported that he found no 
ice more than fourteen feet thick. He had averaged 
only three-quarters of a mile a day, because he con- 
stantly met open stretches of water and vast areas of 
melted slush. Since then I have talked with many 
other explorers Sverdrup, Amundsen, Bartlett, 
Stefdnsson, and several Russians and they agree with 
Nansen that the ice is not too thick and that it is 
the difficulties of the surface that make polar travel 
almost impossible. 

Take a submarine built to this order: its top like 
a toboggan or a ski with a downward inclined bow; 
the axis inclined a few degrees so that the bottom 
of the bow is twenty feet or more below the surface; 
a Sperry Autogyro steering-geargo ahead on the 
motors, and you will make progress under the ice. 
Now and then the boat will bob up gently in an 
open lead and the batteries can be recharged. If you 
don't strike open water what of it? My United 
States Patent No. 638,342, filed April 4, 1898, shows 
means for drilling up through the ice and projecting 
two casings to the open air. Through one fresh air 
would be taken in, through the other noxious gases 


expelledas simple as that. Tests show that the drill- 
ing can be done at the rate of one foot a minute with 
a three horse-power motor. The recharged batteries 
would be good for about one hundred miles at a 
moderate speed. 

Irving Bacheller, then editor of the New York; 
World, heard of my talk to the Johns Hopkins fac- 
ulty in 1898, and wrote me that he hoped to interest 
the elder Pulitzer in building an under-ice boat. But 
Bacheller's novel Eben Holden appeared and made 
such a sensational success that he abandoned news- 
paper work, and I grew interested in other things. 

In 1904 I made an entirely successful run under 
the ice of Narragansett Bay, taking with me Major 
Arthur Murray, later chief of Coast Artillery, and 
Captains E. J. Bailey and C. E. Parker. In Russia 
I made some further experiments and was about to 
arrange for the construction of an under-ice boat for 
that government. The Russians planned to ship under 
the ice from the Baltic to their Pacific coast instead 
of by the Suez Canal, but the war with Japan ended 
and the project was dropped. I discussed the idea at 
a dinner given me by the president and directors of 
the North German Lloyd in Bremerhaven in 1908, 
but we were all too busy just then to do anything 
about it. Yet it was out of this talk that the Deutsch- 
land evolved. Other things engaged my attention 
until the Lake Company was closed down by Lord 
Balfour's raid on the United States. One day I read 
an interview with Sir Hubert Wilkins, who had just 
made his first flight across the Arctic: 





5 3 

2 s 





"There were no suitable landing places," he said. 
"I think the Pole could most easily be reached by 

I met him along with Captain Sloan Danenhower, 
who had at one time been in command of subma- 
rines in the United States Navy, and later had rep- 
resented the Navy in charge of our builders' trials 
at Bridgeport during the testing of new submarines. 
The Lake-Danenhower Company was formed, the 
plan being to use the old Defender, built in 1907, 
but later we were able to borrow the O-I2 from the 
Navy. It was a much larger and more powerful ves- 
sel and was one of those scheduled for destruction 
under the Balfour agreement. We agreed to pay one 
dollar a year and, when we were through with her, 
return her to the Navy for destruction. 

I designed a new superstructure and put in a 
diving compartment which later enabled scientists 
to collect specimens of arctic marine life through 
an opened door. I understand that the craft itself 
functioned perfectly, but for various reasons Sir 
Hubert Wilkins and Captain Danenhower were so 
anxious to get away on the voyage that they took a 
chance, and sailed with engines and electric equip- 
ment in very bad condition. An engine cylinder was 
cracked, two of the pumps were not in condition, the 
ice drill- and conning-tower were not functioning 
properly, and I have been told that one of the large 
yokes of the generator motor was loose in the rack. 
In marine engineering, and especially in submarine 
engineering, there is almost no such thing as a minor 


defect. A little trouble is apt to multiply into many 
big troubles. 

Therefore the Wilkins-Danenhower expedition 
failed of reaching its goal, but it did prove the prac- 
ticability of traveling through and under heavy ice. 
It seems that much valuable data was accumulated in 
determining the contour of the arctic water bed, and 
I understand that Dr. Sverdrup, one of the scientists 
on the expedition who spent many hours in the div- 
ing compartment, is preparing a book describing this 
work. One of these days some one, government, trans- 
portation company, or well-to-do individual, will build 
the right kind of a submarine for under-ice and 
commercial work, and overnight it will be accepted 
as other mechanical advances of the day have been. 
Such a submarine should be more rugged than the 
military type, and the propelling machinery should 
be designed for giving a powerful thrust at a slow 
speed rather than for fast going. The expensive in- 
stallations required for armament and for quick sub- 
mergence could be dispensed with and the cost re- 
duced to about one-fourth of a military craft. 

When one considers that about three-quarters of 
the earth's surface is covered with water and that 
there are treasures known to be awaiting us in the 
depths, it seems certain that eventually commercial- 
type submarines will be found in every sea. It has 
recently been reported that the radium content of 
the red clay found a certain place on the sea bot- 
tom is far greater than in the richest ore as yet dis- 
covered. Gold can be washed out on the sea bottom, 


the cargoes of sunken ships can be recovered, pearls 
found, sponges taken, and perhaps who knows? 
that old road that leads down into the sea may be 
traced direct to the Lost Continent. 

I'd like to make that trip over the bottom that 
Dr. Beebe talks about and, perhaps, drift the boat 
through the streets of Atlantis and peer in through 
the windows of the drowned palaces. Who knows? 


A Confession of Failure 

IN all my life I have made only two complete fail- 
ures. I think that is a record to be proud of. 

I do not mean that everything I have attempted 
has been a success. I have spent time on ideas that 
were later dropped for other ideas that were more 
timely or more interesting. But there has always been 
something at the root of whatever it was I have been 
working on. I have gotten out patents and forgotten 
them. I have started many a rabbit down many a 
track and let it get away. But I have only failed 
twice when I undertook to retire. 

That cannot be done, not by Simon Lake, at least. 
I have never had more all-inclusive misery than while 
I was trying to live up to my fortune and have a 
good time. I could not form the habit of loafing. 
I do not like to play. My feet get tired when I tramp 
through picture galleries although I can stand on 
a steel deck all day. I am a prey to every form of 
pest from sand-gnats to black flies. I get sick. I lose 
interest in things. Until I get back to work I am a 
total loss. The second time I retired from retiring 
I told my wife, 'Til never retire again. I'd rather die. 
broke than kill myself trying to have a good time." 

The first time I retired from business was in 1915. 


The Bridgeport plant was going, it made me a good 
income, I had a comfortable sum in the bank, and 
I had worked hard all my life. Most business men 
reach a point sooner or later when they think that 
idleness will be pleasant. I am not sure now whether 
I reached that point under my own steam or was 
pushed up to it by my womenfolk. At all events I 
got out of everything I could get out of, cleared 
decks for action, and, with Mrs. Lake and our young- 
est daughter, started for the Panama-Pacific Exposi- 
tion. I had everything that goes into the making of 
a good time except a willingness to quit work. 

Mrs. Lake began, operations by coming down with 
ptomaine poisoning in Salt Lake City. I was pretty 
badly scared for a few days. Then we went on to 
San Francisco and all three of us caught colds. Mine 
almost amounted to pneumonia. As soon as the three 
determined pleasure-seekers were able to travel we 
moved on to Asheville, North Carolina, to recuperate. 
I could hardly walk a block by the time we got there, 
and spent my time in the lobby of the Grove Park 
Inn talking to the proprietor. It was a nice hotel 
and he was an interesting man, having been with 
Henry Ford on his Peace Expedition of December, 
1915, but put together they did not recompense me 
for the loss of my daily work. There's no doubt of it. 
I pined for the feel of a drawing-board and a pair of 

We moved on to New Orleans and found it a 
good town, full of lively people and famous cooks, 
but it did not compensate me for what I missed. 


Cuba was pleasant but presently it ceased to keep 
me out o the yawns. In Florida the fish was bad 
and the milk sour, which probably accounts for the 
fact that I did not get in on the beginning of the 
Palm Beach boom. Plenty of chances were offered, 
but none of them looked good. I am not a real- 
estate speculator by nature. My speculations have 
boats or diving rigs in them. I brought my family 
back to Bridgeport and got into my working clothes. 

In 1920 I retired again. I am willing to admit 
that this was my own inspiration. I have always had 
a liking for a height of land that overlooks the sea. 
Something ancestral, I suppose, although four or 
five generations of Lakes have lived in New Jer- 
sey's flat lands. I believe that probers into pedigrees 
once discovered that we have a pirate in our family 
tree, however, and it may be that I inherited this 
liking for an overlooking place from him. I had 
bought a nice farm of 165 acres in the hills back 
of Bridgeport, from which I could see clear out to 
sea on a clear day, but Mrs. Lake would not live 
on it* She likes the town, and, anyhow, I couldn't 
let the shop alone. I quit this foolishness about re- 
tiring, went back to work, lost all my money, and 
have been quite happy. 

If more money is needed I can make it. Only 
recently I was offered $50,000 a year by a foreign gov- 
ernment to oversee its program of submarine build- 
ing. But I do not want to go away from home again, 
and anyhow, there are too many things to do here. 


One is the salvaging of the Lusitania's cargo. I had a 
contract for this with the British authorities, but 
my hands were too full and it expired on December 
31, 1935. The treasure of the Lutine still attracts 
me. In 1937 I hunted for the wreck of the British 
battleship Hussar, which sank in the North River, 
above New York City, during the Revolutionary 
War and was said to have had some millions in 
money aboard. There is a tradition that some of this 
money was salvaged by an old Connecticut Yankee, 
but I would not vouch for it. 

That the Hussar did sink in Hell Gate is certain. 
Her anchor was recovered by an expedition in 1823, 
and once her stern was lifted to the surface of the 
water. But in the century that has passed, the shore- 
line has changed completely. No one now knows 
precisely where the old hulk rests and my explora- 
tions early in 1937 were unsuccessful. I have not 
given up the idea but other things are more press- 
ing. I know from experience that cargoes can be 
salvaged at a profit in the comparatively shallow 
waters of Long Island Sound and along our coast. 
There is, also, the enticing prospect of voyaging 
under the ice in a Lake submarine. 

Dr. William Beebe wants to take a trip with me 
in a submarine built for the sole purpose of scien- 
tific research. Such a boat would differ widely from 
a submarine built for military purposes, and I be- 
lieve that by its use many secrets of the sea could 
be discovered. For centuries tradition has told of the 


lost continents of Atlantis and Mu. If these sunken 
lands ever existed I believe they can be found by 
submarine exploration. 

I would like to do something for the protection 
of the interests of inventors. Lately a group of mal- 
contents, theorists, academic players with economic 
dynamite, have been telling the working man that 
modern inventions are taking the bread out of his 
mouth. If the working man can be made to see and 
understand the facts he will pay no attention to 
these windy demagogues. 

I have been asked to go into politics and may 
eventually do so, in the hope that I can aid in the 
enactment of laws to protect the right of the indi- 
vidual to have what he wishes and do as he pleases 
so long as he does not interfere with the similar 
rights of another person. 

I have a book filled with patents which have been 
issued to me and which for one reason or another I 
have neglected. I may take some of them up again. 
Meanwhile I've gone back to work and I'm happy. 

One thing is certain. I will not voluntarily retire 


A-i; loss of, 144 

Abbot, Leon, Governor, 49 

Adams, C. E., 53, 178 

Adams, Jeremy, 21 

Air compressor, invented, 80 

Air-lock, the first, 12, 23, 

*4> 55> 57> 58 
Argonaut, the first, is, 13, 

*5> 37* 72, 79 8 *> 8 4> 
88, 91, 101, 114, 116, 

121, 123, 125, 129, 229, 


Argonaut Junior, 59 et seq, 

82, 237 

Argyll family, 223 
Armament, submarines, 

Armstrong - Whitworth 

Company, 209, 210 
Army Board of Investiga- 
tion, 165 

Army takes hand, 107 
Atlantic City, pasture, 20 
Atlantic Highlands, 59 
Austrian submarines, 205 
Automobile steering de- 
vice, 30 

Babcock and Wilcox, 161 
Bailey, Captain Chas. J,, 
165, 288 

Baird, Admiral, 41 
Baker, George A., 39, 49 
Baker, Ray Stannard, 119 
Balfour, Lord Arthur, 271, 


Baltimore and business, 32 
Bath Iron Works, 230 
Battleship vs. submarine, 

87, 269, 271 
Berg, Hart O., 174, 186, 

202, 207, 210, 220, 26l 

Beveridge, Albert J., 171 
Bicycle steering device, 29 
Big guns on submarines, 


Billy the Roller, 183 
Blackfish Hole, 61 
Blunderbuss adventure, 15 
Boat steering gear, 30 
Booth, A. and Company, 

Bottom cruising, 92, 106 

Bowles, Rear-Admiral F. 

T., 150 

Bremen's loss, 258 
British policy, 207, 271 
Bushnell, Dr. David, 111 
Business, first venture, 31 


Cainden, school in, 5 
Can-capping device, 32 

298 INDEX 

Canoe submarine, 24 
Cappers' Union, 34 
Carbon monoxide, peril of, 

84, 86 
Cardenas, cable cutting, 


Careless workmen, 236 
Cargo-carrying submarines, 

88, 249, 253, 255, 257, 

259, 263, 265, 285 
Cellini, Benvenuto, 223 
Champion, Bart, 59 et seq 
Champion, Somers T., 59, 

63, 67 

Charter Oak, 22 
Chesapeake Bay men, 30 
Chesebrough building, 54 
Cisneros, Evangeline, 98 
Cochran, Alex, 84 
Company organized, 69, 


Concrete ships, 263, 266 
Connecticut charter, 21 
Contracts, fixed price, 244 
Cooney, Tom, 26 
Craig Shipbuilding Com- 
pany, 244 

Cuban Junta, 95 et seq 
Czar's daughters, 196 

Danenhower, Captain 

Sloan, 289 et seq 
Daniels, Josephus, 268, 278 
Decker, Karl, 98 
Defender, 289 
Delfino sinks, 185 

Deutschland, 251 et seq, 


Devil in the river, 89 
d'Eyncourt, Sir Tennyson, 


"Diving boats," 42 
Diving compartment, first, 


Diving suit, home-made, 

Efficiency experts, 276 
Electric Boat Company, 

81, 153* *59> l6 9> 225 
Emergency Fleet Corpora- 

. tion, 265 
European organization, 

200, 205, 217 

Father's activities, i, 5, 7, 

9, 16, 19, 48, 203 
Fels, Joseph, 282, 283 
Fenian Ram, 38 
First love, 6 
First submarine, 12 
Fishy visitors, 92 
Flint, Charles R., 172, 202, 

268, 282 

Florencia, wreck of, 221 
Flying machines, 18, 226 
Fortuna, 178, 183 
Fortune, missed, 275 
Foss, Lieutenant - Colonel 

Kenneth Mackenzie, 


Foundation Company 
New York, 13 

Foundry strike, 25 et seq 

Franklin Institute, 26 

Freighters. See Cargo-car- 
rying sumbarines 

Friendless, i 

Fulton, Robert, 112 

Fun on ice, 6 



Gasoline troubles, 89 
German offers for cargo 

carriers, 257 
Germany pirates 

206, 212 

Golden Days, 23 
Gorman, United 

Senator, 167 
Government in wartime, 

240 et seq, 259 et seq, 

262, 264, 267 
Graft, 247 
Grandmother. See Step- 

Grosvenor, Dr. William 

M., 279 

Grubb, Sir Howard, 142 
Guns on submarines, 226 

Hale, Eugene, 147 
Halligan, John T., Rear- 
Admiral, 162 
Halstead, O. S., 37 
Hampton Roads, 106 

INDEX 299 

of Haswell, Charles, 28, 57, 


Hawkins, Foster, 241, 243 
High-wheel bicycle, 29 
Hilken, Paul, 253 et seq 
Hill, E. J., 171 
History, 199 
Holland Boat Company, 

Holland, J. P., 37, 40, 49, 

66, 139, 147, 153, 227 
Hoover, Herbert, 281 
Housatonic Shipbuilding 

Company, 242, 266 
Houses, prefabricated, 282 
Hussar, wreck of, 295 
Hydroplanes, 91 

Ice, under the, 165, 286 
Intelligent Whale, 37 
Inventors and government, 

39, 52, 111, 277, 295 
Inventors, Institute of, 277, 

Ivens, William M., 283 

Japanese show interest, 

170, 172 
Johnson, Eades, 243, 246, 

Josephine, the yacht, 151, 


Kaiser Wilhelm II, 183 
Keel, drop, 80 


Keel, level, principle of, 

41, 226, 250 
Koenig, Captain, 254 et 

Krupp contracts, 204 et seq, 


Labor, greed of, 245 
Lake, David, 18 
Ezra, 18 

family, 10, 18 et seq 
Ira, 18 
James, 62 
Jesse, 16 
Risley, 18 
Vincent, 18 
Lake Capping Machine 

Company, 34 

Lake Torpedo Boat Com- 
pany, 154, 156, 170, 
178, 218, 226, 228, 274, 

Lake's plans, the forerun- 
ners, 30, 116, 250 
Legal snarls, 159 
Le Plongeur, 42 
Lessler, Congressman, 156 
Libau, demonstration at, 


Lloyd's signs contract, 219 
Lobby activities, 148 et 

seq, 151, 156, 167, 232 
Long Beach, 244, 275 
Lusitania warning, 250 
Lutine's treasure, 216, 295 


Maine, mystery of, 102 
Mariquita adventure, 62 
Married, 36 
Maxim, Hiram Stevens, 


Mclnnis, John, 80, 84, 229 

McNeill, Archibald, 242 
Kenneth, 242 

Melville, Rear -Admiral, 
149 et seq, 155 

Merritt and Chapman 
Company, 127, 180, 

Midnight oil, 36 

Miller, Frank, 22 

Miller, Lebbeus, 161, 275 

Mines and cables, 103, 105, 

Mitsui Company, 171 

Monarch, barge, 180 

Money due from govern- 
ment, 240, 244 

Monitor, 112 

Morro Castle, 98 

Mother's death, i 

Murray, Lieutenant-Colo- 
nel Arthur, 165, 227, 

Mystery of Maine, 102 

Navy, Board of Construc- 
tion, 150 

Board overruled, 41, 231 
contacts with, 37 
ignorance of, 43, 88, 90, 

io6, 108, 234, 249, 251, 

lobby control of, 149, 

156, 167, 232 
rebuffed by, 38, 41, 49, 

refuses Number Ten,, 


second offer to, 48 
Newspapers interested, 41, 

65, 86, 90 
New York venture, 48, 53, 

56, 59 

Norris, James L., 167 
Number Ten, 208 

Ocean City, 20 

Ocean City Foundry, 25 

O'Neill, Rear - Admiral, 

Oyster pirates, 31 

Parker, Captain Charles F., 

165, 288 
Partners and rascals, 34 et 


Patapsco River, 84, 89 
Patent pool, 267 
Patents, 30 
Patterson, Ada, 90 
Patuxent River, 104 
Peace Conference, 270 
Peacock, Edward L., 80, 

84, 229 
Peck's Beach, 20 

INDEX 301 

Pedagogic methods, 3, 5 
Periscope, invention of, 

i 3 8 

Pirates, oyster, 31 

Platt, Senator, United 

States, 167 
Plunger, the, 43, 72, 79, 82, 

.. !47> 225 
Pneumonia, ice cure for, 


"Porpoising," 42 
Powder-horn clue, 14 
Princess Gecile, 183 
Protector, 94, 154, 162, 

164, 179, 192, 198, 

226, 230 

Punishment in school, 3, 5 
"Puttyhead" Rogers, 5 

Quigg, Lemuel Eli, 158 

Retirement plans, 292 
Rice, Isaac L., 153 
Robbins Drydock Com- 
pany, 123 

Roosevelt, Theodore, 105 
Rothert subscribes, 81 
Ruin, faced by, 70, 75 
Russians buy first subma- 
rine, 174 

carelessness of, 187, 190 

morals, 194 

show interest, 171 

technical ability, 200 


8-4, loss of, 234, 235 

8-48 endangered, 235 et 

Safety chambers, 14, 47, 


Sage, Russell, 56 
Salvaging operations, 95, 

130, 136, 147, 220, 226 

Sampson, Admiral, 51 
Saved by false teeth, 70 
School days, i et seq 
co-ed school, 7 
end of, 9 

Scott, Sir Percy, 249 
Seal, 228, 230, 235, 240 
Shade-rollers, 19 
Shipping Board, United 

States, 263 

Shore Road survey, 19 
Shrewsbury River, 61 
Signal Hill, 275 
Sigsbee, Admiral, 94 
Simon, Elwood, 183 
Simon Lake X, 208, 231 
Sims, Admiral, 94 
Singer, Isaac, 161 
Smart alecks, 236 
Smuggling a submarine, 

176 et seq 

Sooysmith, Charles, 13 
Spies, 172, 174, 177, 182 
Step-grandmother, i, 2, 5 
Storm, 1898, 114 
Straus, Nathan, 67 
Submarine cargo carriers. 

See Cargo - carrying 


Submarine excursions, 92, 

106, 126 

Submarine, first, 12, 44, 47 
Submarine history, 37, 111 
Submarine patents, 30 
Submarine tube, 134, 220, 

224, 226 
Submarine, wheels on, 12, 

46, 79, 94, 129 
Surface navigation in sub- 
marines, 45, 115 
Susan Daugherty, 122 
Swindling promoter, 69 et 

Taft, William Howard, 


Tillman, Ben, 267 
Tirpitz, Admiral von, 207, 

Tobermory, treasure in 

bay of, 224 
Todd, W. R., 123 
Toms River life, 23 
Tools as toys, 10 
Torpedoes, 87 
Torpedo Boat Company. 

See Lake. 
Tractor, first, 17 
Treasure hunting, 48, 128, 

216, 218, 220, 224, 226, 

280, 290, 295 

U-i, 144 
U-2, 144 

Uncles. See Lake. 
Under the ice, 165, 286 

Vacation misery, 292 
Verne, Jules, 10, 117 
Vickers' Sons & Maxim, 

Virginia Beach, 108 

Walking on water, 18 

INDEX 303 

Watch making, 11 
Wheels on submarines, 12, 

Wild money, 98, 268 
Wilkins, Sir Hubert, 288 

et seq 

"Winders," 30 
Workmen, careless, 236 
Wreck finding, 131 
Wright brothers, 112, 201, 

227, 261